Whole Foods Endorses GMO Labeling

1x1.trans Whole Foods Endorses GMO LabelingIn the past year, 36 bills in 19 US states have been introduced, including California, where voters will vote on a GMO labeling ballot initiative.

Whole Foods Market has endorsed California’s initiative Proposition 37, that would require the labeling of genetically engineered food ingredients.

Whole Foods Market, the largest US natural-goods specialty retailer, claims it’s backing Proposition 37 on the November ballot because it has long believed its customers have the right to know how their food is produced.

That “right to know” is the cornerstone of the ballot measure, which has strong support from farmers, processors and sellers of organic foods, but is opposed by biotech companies, grocery manufacturers and the soft drink industry, among others.

However, as the Los Angeles Times points out, Whole Foods’ endorsement has a couple of provisos related California’s proposition.

1x1.trans Whole Foods Endorses GMO LabelingIn a press release, the market complained that a 0.5% threshold was too low for exempting a product containing a small amount of genetically engineered content from the labeling requirement.

The company also objected to a provision that would allow private attorneys to sue on behalf of the state, alleging a violation of the labeling mandate, should it become law.

Stacy Malkan, the spokeswoman for the Proposition 37 campaign, noted that the parts of Proposition 37 that Whole Foods doesn’t like can’t be removed from the initiative before the election.

“Nor can they be changed, if it should be approved, unless the effort gets the approval of two-thirds of the state Legislature and is deemed to be “in furtherance” of the law’s intent.”

Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman for the No campaign says the only way to get the provisions is through another ballot measure.

1x1.trans Whole Foods Endorses GMO LabelingAccording to Maplight.org, a nonpartisan voter information service, opponents have raised about $25 million to fight Proposition 37, while supporters reported $3.5 million as of Sept. 1.

Whole Foods has not contributed to the Yes on 37 campaign, according to filings with the California secretary of state.

Nearly 50 countries have mandatory labeling policies for GMO foods including South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, Brazil, China, Australia, New Zealand, the entire European Union, and many others.

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) submitted a record-breaking one million public comments to the Food and Drug Administration requesting that the agency require labeling of genetically engineered foods.

More than 450 organizations, businesses and associations united in support of the CFS legal action. The CFS petition was filed in October, 2011.

Several “Just Label It” participants also joined the Center’s petition. However, the FDA virtually erased the one million signatures and comments on the “Just Label It” campaign.

The FDA counted tens of thousands of signatures presented on a single petition as a single comment. This is how, despite over a million supporters gathered by the petition, the FDA concluded a count of only 394.

Spence Cooper
Inquisitive foodie with a professional investigative background and strong belief in the organic farm to table movement. Author of Bad Seeds: A FriendsEAT Guide to GMO's. Buy Now!
Spence Cooper