In case you missed it, 10 days ago Whole Foods became the first major American grocery chain in the United States to mandate the labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients.
The policy won't go into effect until 2018—a fact that has been met with much scorn by labeling advocates—but I believe this could be a seminal moment for the betterment of our food supply that hopefully will have widespread positive ramifications way before 2018. The conversation has been amplified and more and more people will be aware of the issue.
Consumer advocacy groups were enthusiastic, to varying degrees.
The Environmental Working Group took a more populist approach:
"Great news - Whole Foods Market just announced that the company will require all genetically engineered foods on its shelves to be labeled by 2018! It is the first national grocery chain to do so.
"Whole Foods Market has 3,300 products that are not genetically engineered, more than any other retailer in North America. Now it is taking it a step further. By 2018, any food sold in Whole Foods Market's U.S. and Canadian stores that contains genetically engineered ingredients must be labeled. This even includes meat that was fed genetically engineered feed - going beyond what any other nation requires for GE labeling. Whole Foods Market is the first national grocery store chain to set a deadline for full transparency of genetically engineered foods.
"It is also a major victory for consumers who want to know what they are eating and a game-changer for federal and state-level labeling initiatives.
"It may seem like five years is a long time for this policy to take effect, but the fact is, this is a huge task. About 88 percent of field corn, 90 percent of all soybeans and more than 90 percent of canola seed grown in the U.S. come from genetically engineered seeds. Still, we predict that Whole Foods Market's announcement will bring immediate changes from many of its suppliers.On the other hand, the Organic Consumers Association would like to see even more transparency from Whole Foods:
"There is currently no legal requirement for genetically engineered food to be labeled. You have the right to know what you and your family are eating. That's why we're going to keep fighting for genetically engineered foods to be labeled nationwide. Thank you for standing with us and helping us move markets."
"Whole Foods made a huge splash in the media last week when the company announced that its U.S. and Canadian stores will be required to label all genetically engineered (GE) foods in its stores, by 2018. But five years? Surely the largest national organic grocer in the country can do better than that. After all, Whole Foods is already labeling in its European stores.
"Don’t get us wrong. This is great news. It’s a clear victory for consumers and the GMO labeling movement. And a serious blow to Monsanto. And it’s proof that marketplace pressure works, that consumers have the power to change food policy. So let’s take it a step further. Whole Foods makes billions of dollars a year selling products that carry the misleading 'natural' label. Not only do most of these products contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but they’re also full of pesticides, synthetic chemicals and a host of very unnatural additives. It’s time for Whole Foods to clean up its whole act, by creating a policy that says no product in its stores can be called 'natural' if it contains GMOs. Or any of that other unnatural stuff."