Whole Foods To Label GMO Foods

johnliu_gwMarch 8, 2013


Whole Foods will require all GMO foods to be labeled.

I'm not against genetically modified foods if they are completely safe. I don't have any faith in the food industry to ensure safety. I also don't see how genetically modified foods are being used to benefit me, the cook and diner. I think they are used to benefit the food producer. So, in the current state of things, I want the option to avoid GMO foods.

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CA Kate

I too watch for GMO free foods. I really don't need to be RoundUp ready.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 9:51PM
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This is fabulous news. I hope other large retailers follow their lead.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 7:55AM
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That is good news. I don't know what the long term effects of eating gmo foods are, and I don't think anyone does. What does concern me, is eating foods that have been sprayed with roundup.

(Edited to correct spelling)


This post was edited by sally2 on Sat, Mar 9, 13 at 9:33

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 9:31AM
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I don't know as far as eating them, but the long term effects of GROWING genetically modified crops are very bad for the environment. Just because it might be economical in the short term, (given a VERY limited style of farming options) doesn't mean it is good for the planet in the long run. These seed/agro-chemical companies are just out to make a quick buck. I am not against businesses making a buck, but if you do so in a way that threatens our very ability to grow food for the long haul, then all bets are off. OK now I'm really on my soapbox, because modern agriculture is very precarious, there are very few actual farmers and it is completely dependent on large influxes of fossil fuels. In fact, if I'm not mistaken it is the second largest sector of the economy for consuming fossil fuels behind transportation. Even if it is not #2, it is in the top five I'm sure. And the modern model of farming is all chemical and mechanical inputs, in order to provide a mass produced product efficiently. However, it assumes that things like fuel conservation, jobs, soil fertility, genetic diversity, flavor, local control, and watershed protection are meaningless in the equation, along with protecting communities from toxins and waste byproducts. Food is way harder to come by than the modern smoke and mirrors system makes it appear. But pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, carry on. . .

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 10:11AM
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Fine idea to label so people can make their choice.
But, please look at the wider world. Quoting from an article in Slate:

"Finally, after a 12-year delay caused by opponents of genetically modified foods, so-called âÂÂgolden riceâ with vitamin A will be grown in the Philippines. Over those 12 years, about 8 million children worldwide died from vitamin A deficiency. Are anti-GM advocates not partly responsible?

"Golden rice is the most prominent example in the global controversy over GM foods, which pits a technology with some risks but incredible potential against the resistance of feel-good campaigning. Three billion people depend on rice as their staple food, with 10 percent at risk for vitamin A deficiency, which, according to the World Health Organization, causes 250,000 to 500,000 children to go blind each year. Of these, half die within a year. A study from the British medical journal the Lancet estimates that, in total, vitamin A deficiency kills 668,000 children under the age of 5 each year."

Here is a link that might be useful: The Deadly Opposition to Genetically Modified Food

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 10:34AM
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I wonder if the 10% will be able to afford the golden rice grown in the Phillippens. And there are plenty of vitamin A rich plant food already being grown, so starving kids already lack access to those foods, not sure how they are going to get access to the rice. This is a seed company's PR. And I hope they label the GMO's as to what they are modified for. As far as I know, GMO's in the US are primarily modified to include resistance to Roundup herbicide and to include Bt bacteria toxins against insects. We witnessed a boom in agricultural productivity around the world right along with a boom in hunger. Poverty and access to the food are the issues. Always has been. It's going to take a lot more than GMO's to solve those two issues. We've been lucky here in the US because we are sitting on some of the best agricultural land in the world, some of it right in my backyard as a matter of fact. Quite a blessing. And really upsets me how we squander it and treat it without much respect. But since so few of us are involved in growing food, most don't make the connection. There is one school of thought that says, "So what if we cover over all this good land with non-agricultural stuff, we'll just grow more food on less land, employing fewer farmers." I am not a devotee of that school, but that's the dominant paradigm. So expect more chemicals, more irrigation, less flavor and someday higher prices when the oil prices catch up with this system. Luckily, most in suburbia are sitting on top of that great land so hopefully will be able to reclaim a little of their self sufficiency. In fact, many already are. But I realize not everyone wants to be a greenie like me and I don't expect them to. This is just my .02 on genetically modified plants. Wish it were that simple on the one hand, am endlessly fascinated that it is not.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 11:19AM
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I will be most curious to see how WF labels cheeses made with FPC.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 5:13PM
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I never understand why people get so bent out of shape about labeling things for what they are. It's one thing to call for outlawing something, but quite another to simply request that we know what we're consuming.

Take pink slime, I don't recall hearing many - if any - people wanting it banned, they just wanted the beef labeled like the poultry equivalent is. Would it have made a difference in sales? Sure in the short term while it was hot in the news but I doubt much in the long term. More people than not still buy non-organic produce, farmed salmon and other fish from questionable seas, shrimp from Thailand and such, products sweetened with HFCS, and the list goes on.

I applaud Whole Foods for taking this initiative. Their customers pay a premium for quality, perceived or real, and they deserve to know what they're buying. Actually, we all deserve to know as much as possible about what we feed ourselves and our families, so I hope that this becomes a wide-spread trend so that everyone can make their own decisions.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 5:29PM
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I agree, FOAS, I want to know what I'm buying and I want it labeled, so I can decide whether I want to purchase it or not.

I won't knowingly purchase GMO foods. Right now they can be avoided by buying organic, but I think labeling all food substances accurately and honestly isn't asking too much from the consumer.

Right now the Dairy Council wants to be allowed to add artificial sweeteners to milk without labeling them. (sigh) Their argument is that kids would then drink more milk and fewer soft drinks, resulting in healthier habits.

It seems that everyone wants to add something to our food supply, but no one wants us to know it.

Lpink, as you know, I agree. We are not good stewards of our resources, be it animal, vegetable or mineral.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 9:39PM
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Right now the Dairy Council wants to be allowed to add artificial sweeteners to milk without labeling them. (sigh) Their argument is that kids would then drink more milk and fewer soft drinks, resulting in healthier habits.

Really?? Gawd....

Good for Whole Foods.( I would pay for their whole-paycheck prices for some things...if I only had a WF within driving distance!)

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 12:02AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

More people than not still buy non-organic produce, farmed salmon and other fish from questionable seas, shrimp from Thailand and such, products sweetened with HFCS, and the list goes on.

Sadly, that would be me. I wish the WF and Tj's wasn't a solid hour away.
And, well, I don't want to spend the money. I'm not poor, but not rich either, and if I bought all organic, which would be a hassle ( all that driving and time), my grocery bill would nearly double. I have several people to feed.
And I'm not including gas.
Still, I do try to eat mostly natural, avoid hfcs, and buy wild salmon.
Oh, I do agree with labeling. Yes, definitely.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 12:16AM
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To me, there's not much worth spending more on than what I feed my family and myself. I'm one of those willing to pay a premium for food that is humanely raised and organic if possible. I save my money elsewhere. I buy my clothes at thrift stores. I get my books and movies at the library. But my and my family's health is important, and that's where I put my money.

FOAS, LPink and Annie, I couldn't agree more. I really fear we are headed to another dust bowl.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:14AM
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Another here who's glad to see WF labeling GMO foods. I just want to know what I'm purchasing.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:51AM
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I heard an ad on the radio last week & was surprised to learn that a small chain in my area is going to be labeling non-GMO foods. I believe it's a forward-thinking strategy & welcome it. If given a choice between two similar foods, one containing GMO ingredients, and one without, I'd opt for non-GMO (same w/organic). This is assuming the price is within say 20-30% of the GMO (or within my budget that week).

Here is a link that might be useful: Hiller Mkts. non-GMO stance

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 12:40PM
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katiec, I was appalled. FDA is reviewing the petition right now.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:22PM
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Annie, that is awful!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:38PM
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There was a huge fight in California in labelling all foods that have been modified and the industry (Monsanto) had a huge problem with that. If they were so safe, why the big deal if it's front and centre on the label? Right there is a big "Hmmm?" Makes you wonder. I have no trust in corporations and food. No one is out for my families safety except me. I used to believe that foods had to be modified to help feed a starving world. Not anymore. We need to be less wasteful and change our eating habits. Besides half the food in the supermarket isn't even food, IMO. Oh yeah, Monsanto won.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:44PM
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My kids have never objected to drinking milk - they often want more than 8 oz at dinner. They do have problems drinking whole milk (GI problems). Both are sensitive to fat and DS is sensitive to sugar. Now they're talking about adding artificial sweeteners (which I don't allow them to have) to milk???

Not that sugar is any better - 95% of sugar beets are GM. I guess I'm going to have to switch to organic sugar for my jams.

The taste for sweets is hard-wired into us, once you start eating them it's hard to stop. I used to take my coffee with just a bit of milk before I got pregnant with DS, I couldn't give up my coffee (another addiction), so I started using sugar. I stopped after I had him, but when I got pg again I started using sugar and after DD was born I just couldn't drink unsweetened coffee again (so I switched to Speldna - probably a mistake). So we're going to be doing the same thing to our kids by sweetening their milk -it will get to the point where everything they eat and drink will have to be sweet(end) or it won't be palatable.

And the powers that be think this will make kids eat/drink healthier foods or more of them?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:04PM
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The products sold as food these days are so laden with various forms of sugar that doesn't need to be there, and now they want to fill milk with sugar? They are trying to create a need that doesn't exist so that they can sell more product. There are no words adequate to describe how awful it would be to add sweetener to milk, or anything, for that matter, without labeling.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 10:02AM
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If anyone is interested I just watched this documentary on GMOs on tv the other night. Very informative and scary if everything they are saying about GMOs is true. I did a quick search and found it on IMDB to watch for free. If GMOs are completely safe they should have no problem labeling foods as such. Here is a link if anyone is interested

Here is a link that might be useful: Genetic Roulette

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 12:47AM
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Thank you for that link - I just watched the video in its entirety (I missed it at library last week since DH was out of town and was going to see it at farm next week but you saved me the trip).

I knew that animals would choose non-GMO over GMO feed - I don't know how they know but they do.

I knew that GMO crops do not out-produce organic

I knew that GMO crops are lower in nutrition

I DID NOT know that animals fed GMO corn were miscarrying, and that an unidentified organism has been found in the tissue!

I DID NOT know that Bt crops have been linked to "leaky gut", allergies, and other GI issues (though I have hypothesized that the rise in food allergies, celiac disease, and asthma MAY be linked to GMOs and associated pesticide - i.e. Roundup - use).

I DID NOT know that yellow (only crookneck? or straightneck too) squash and zucchini had been GE (not as widespread as corn, soy, beets and cotton). I also didn't know about canola oil.

The segment on animal deaths in India linked to Bt cotton were eye-opening, as was the South African segment on GMO corn.

I am a (small) organic farmer, I do not knowingly buy GM seed because I worry about genetic diversity and the creation of "superweeds". I had no idea that the health benefits of a non-GMO human diet were so dramatic compared to a "conventional" (increasingly GMO) diet. I thought that raising a crop organically (no-spray) was the most important thing. I will look carefully at not only the sugar I buy for my jams and jellies to be sure it is pure cane sugar and not beet sugar, and also the beet seed (not labeled) as well as other seeds (I do not grow corn, and buy soybeans from Fedco who do not test them but will not knowingly sell GMO seed (they acknowledge genetic drift is possible).

I will not be planting chard or beets this year unless I can verify that my seed is non-GMO (Fedco just started testing beet and chard). I do have zucchini seed from Fedco, I don't know if that is GMO-free since they don't test, and I bought straightneck seed (from big seed company) at the local store so those may be off my crop plan this year too.

I want to try to download this movie on my iPad and play it at my booth at farmer's market.

Again, thank you!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:53AM
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I checked and Burpee says they do not sell GMO seed. Of course, there's always the issue of cross-pollination/contamination but as much as the big M wants for its seed, it's not likely that someone growing for Burpee, Hart, Park, etc. would have GMO crops as well (you'd hope they'd be careful about it, if anything just so M doesn't sue them for copyright infringement).

Guess it's time to look into where the seeds are actually coming from to make sure the neighboring farms aren't using GMO seed. Even Fedco buys seed from suppliers engaged in GE, that's why they say there could be "drift". I'm going to read the supplier codes more carefully next year before ordering.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 6:43PM
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Way to go Whole Foods! If there was one near me I'd shop there just because of this!

Watching those videos is really an eye opener. I just can't understand how some people can sleep at night knowing what they are producing is so harmful to people.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:32PM
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As for your seed sources, be careful. Monsanto bought Seminis, which provided organic seed. They've been buying up smaller companies and now Monsanto owns about 40% of the seed market too.

I did get some seeds from Territorial Seed after an email exchange with them in which I was told that they do not do any business with Monsant or Seminis. I guess that's as close as I get to knowing.


Here is a link that might be useful: Monsanto seeds

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 11:22PM
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Ajsmama - you are welcome. It is great that you grow organic and its terrible that they make it so difficult to find non gmo seeds. Hopefully more grocery stores will follow Whole foods' lead and require gmo labeling.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 11:51PM
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Yes, Annie, that's what made me think twice about the packets of seeds I bought locally and whether the brassicas and squash could have been "contaminated" even though I was not paying a lot and not buying in bulk. I was very surprised to find that Fedco has a supplier category "Multinational engaged in genetic engineering" though - I will have to look at supplier codes more carefully. Though I'm sure they don't let any slip into what they send to Fedco b/c they want their money for the GMO seed - and don't want people saving seed from GMO plants. I just don't want to support those companies.

Sorry if I misled anyone - it is NOT hard (yet) to find nonGMO seed. But if you're really concerned, I'd look for tested seed for those crops most likely to be contaminated (sweet corn, beets and chard, I'd add edamame/soybeans too since so much of the commercial seed is GMO).

But I will add summer squash to the list of things I won't buy in the grocery store - not that I usually do (we have enough of our own, and I usually don't buy anything out of season), but that was one thing I was seriously considering not growing this year since it doesn't bring in as high a price for the space it takes up. But maybe if I tell my customers it's non-GMO, that grocery store squash could be, I can ask more than the grocery store and make it worthwhile to market.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 8:19AM
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Thanks for the link Annie, I checked it out, and as of the date of that article, Seminis did sell to Territorial and Johnny's as well as Fedco. It could be that a couple of the brassicas I just bought from Fedco, as well as the Lollo Rosa lettuce from Burpee could have come from Seminis. I will have to call the companies and check.

A short snippet from the article Annie posted: "
Taking spinach into his own hands: Nash Huber doesnâÂÂt want to get stuck depending on a hybrid that might get dropped by a mega-company owner on a whim. He also doesnâÂÂt want to lose any of the vigor, disease resistance, etc. that hybrid has provided. So Nash is working on dehybridizing �" breeding an open-pollinated spinach that is well adapted to his needs. (pictured: Huber, left; Matthew Dillon, right)

Posted February 22, 2005: The news of MonsantoâÂÂs agreement to purchase Seminis has received little attention from the media other than the financial pages and a few seed industry and anti-globalization web sites. But then again, why should it? How many consumers �" of food or seed �" have even heard of Seminis? And yet, as Seminis spinmeister Gary Koppenjan said, âÂÂIf you've had a salad, you've had a Seminis product."

It is estimated that Seminis controls 40 percent of the U.S. vegetable seed market and 20 percent of the world market�"supplying the genetics for 55 percent of the lettuce on U.S. supermarket shelves, 75 percent of the tomatoes, and 85 percent of the peppers, with strong holdings in beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and peas. The companyâÂÂs biggest revenue source comes from tomato and peppers seeds, followed by cucumbers and beans.

In large part, these numbers reflect usage of Seminis varieties within large industrial production geared towards supermarkets, but Seminis seeds are also widely used by regional conventional and organic farmers as well as market and home gardeners. JohnnyâÂÂs, Territorial, Fedco, NicholâÂÂs, Rupp, Osborne, Snow, and Stokes are among the dozens of commercial and garden seed catalogs that carry the more than 3,500 varieties that comprise Seminisâ offerings. This includes dozens of All-American Selections and an increasing number of varieties licensed to third parties for certified organic seed production.

The brand-name companies under Seminis (such as Petoseed) have developed, released, produced and distributed varieties common to the market farmer and even home gardener. These include Big Beef, Sweet Baby Girl and Early Girl Tomatoes; Simpsons Elite and Red Sails Lettuces; Red Knight and King Arthur Peppers; Gold Rush and Blackjack Zucchinis; Stars & Stripes Melon; and Bush Delicata and Early Butternut squashes (see sidebar for other popular varieties)."

So home gardeners DO have to check their seed, these are very popular varieties though the article is NOT saying that these...

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 8:50AM
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Fedco just verified that they do not buy from Seminis. I haven't heard back from Burpee about the lettuce.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 9:58AM
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Connecticut is having a rally today for support to label all GMO products.


Here is a link that might be useful: CT Support for GMO Labels

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 10:25AM
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Missed it, though I did get the email from CT NOFA. Are you down in the Mystic area? We used to live in Salem, then East Lyme (that was before NUWC moved to RI and we moved back to my family farm)?

If you want, I'll send Beyond Pesticides' email about the biotech rider they're trying to sneak through to you but I don't know if I can forward it unless you email me through GW and then I can reply to your email.

Sorry if I brought this thread OT, but I don't think it's way OT....

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 3:15PM
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Here's a link to Beyond Pesticides' blog about the biotech rider for those who are interested

Here is a link that might be useful: Beyond Pesticides

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 3:44PM
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ajsmama, I was told that Territorial Seed got so many complaints that they have ceased purchasing from Seminis.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 8:07PM
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Burpee says they do, but not GMO seed. They didn't specifically answer my question about possibility of GMO genes (even by cross-pollination) in the lettuce seed I bought. Just wondering since Seminis let M experiment with RR gene in lettuce back in 1997.

Guess I'll have to plant a flat of lettuce and try Roundup on it...too bad, b/c this variety is supposed to be really good.

Might be because the Burpee seed is a year newer, but of the 10 different types of pepper seeds I started this year, the 9 Burpee varieties have higher germination rates than the 1 I bought from Fedco. I noticed the same last year when the Fedco seed was only 1 year old (different pepper), and in 2011 had better growth & production from Burpee bells than Fedco's King of the North (chiles were much better, I planted all Fedco chile seed that year).

Burpee says they still buy from Seminis because they are superior seeds, I don't know which specifically they are but I also got nice healthy plants (though sadly not LB resistant) from the Black Krims and Bloody Butchers last year. The only thing is, I'm not sure they were really Bloody Butchers since they were regular leaf and not potato leaf.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 8:34AM
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