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BUSINESS & CONSUMERS: Whole Foods (USA) products will carry GMO labeling by 2018



                                  PART 1


------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   WHOLE FOODS: PRODUCTS WILL CARRY GMO LABELING

SOURCE:  Yahoo! Finance, USA

AUTHOR:  The Associated Press, USA, by Candice Choi & Matthew Perrone

URL:     http://finance.yahoo.com/news/whole-foods-products-carry-gmo-171614080.html

DATE:    08.03.2013

SUMMARY: "Whole Foods says all products in its North American stores that contain genetically modified ingredients will be labeled as such by 2018. The company says it?s the first national grocery chain to set such a deadline for labeling foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. A spokeswoman for the supermarket operator said organic foods will not have to carry the labels since they do not contain genetically modified ingredients by definition. Although Whole Foods is known as an organic grocer, it also sells a wide array of non-organic products."

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WHOLE FOODS: PRODUCTS WILL CARRY GMO LABELING

NEW YORK (AP) -- Whole Foods says all products in its North American stores that contain genetically modified ingredients will be labeled as such by 2018.

The company says it?s the first national grocery chain to set such a deadline for labeling foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. A spokeswoman for the supermarket operator said organic foods will not have to carry the labels since they do not contain genetically modified ingredients by definition.

Although Whole Foods is known as an organic grocer, it also sells a wide array of non-organic products.

The use of GMOs has been a growing issue in recent years, with health advocates pushing for mandatory labeling even though the federal government and many scientists say the ingredients are safe.

The science behind genetically modified organisms is not new. Biotech scientists say that genetic manipulation is a way to reduce disease and enrich plants, raising productivity and increasing the global food supply. According to the National Academies of Sciences, genetically modified corn, cotton and soybeans account for more than four-fifths of those crops grown in the U.S.

In a statement, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, which represents Monsanto, DuPont and other makers of genetically modified seeds, said that it supports the voluntary labeling for people who seek out such products. But since the FDA says there?s no difference between foods that have been improved with biotechnology and their organic counterparts, the group said mandatory labeling would only mislead or confuse consumers.

Whole Foods Market Inc. is nevertheless seeing growing demand for products that don?t use GMOs. Products that get a ?Non-GMO? verification label see sales spike between 15 percent and 30 percent, said A.C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods. In non-perishable groceries, he said the two fastest growing areas are organic and non-GMO products.

Products that don?t use any GMOs are more expensive given the tighter supplies of such ingredients, Gallo said. But he said he hoped the announcement would ?open up the market? for more non-GMO crops.

Whole Foods, based in Austin, Texas, also has seven stores in the United Kingdom, where labeling is already required for foods that contain GMO ingredients. Gallo said there aren?t many products there that have GMO ingredients as a result.

Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch, a consumer and environmental advocacy group, called the Whole Foods announcement a ?smart move.? Her group and others have been pushing for a federal law requiring labeling on all genetically modified foods.

?We?re continuing to work to make this label mandatory because everyone deserves to have that label, not just Whole Foods shoppers,? Lovera said. ?But I think it?s smart on their part to start giving consumers what they want, which is more information.?

Last year, California voters shot down an initiative that would have required such labels. Gallo said the Whole Foods push will be more exhaustive than that initiative because it will require labeling for meats and dairy products if the animals were fed GMO grains.

Given the widespread use of GMO grains to feed farm animals, Gallo said the push would be a ?huge undertaking.?

Whole Foods says it has been working with suppliers for years to source products that don?t have GMO ingredients. It says it currently sells more than 3,000 products have gone through the non-GMO verification process, more than any other retailer in North America.

Perrone contributed to this story from Washington.



                                  PART 2

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   MAJOR GROCER TO LABEL FOODS WITH GENE-MODIFIED CONTENT

SOURCE:  The New York Times, USA

AUTHOR:  Stephanie Strohm

URL:     http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/09/business/grocery-chain-to-require-labels-for-genetically-modified-food.html?smid=tw-nytimesscience&seid=auto&_r=1&;

DATE:    08.03.2013

SUMMARY: "Whole Foods Market, the grocery chain, on Friday became the first retailer in the United States to require labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores, a move that some experts said could radically alter the food industry. A. C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods, said the new labeling requirement, to be in place within five years, came in response to consumer demand. ?We?ve seen how our customers have responded to the products we do have labeled,? Mr. Gallo said. ?Some of our manufacturers say they?ve seen a 15 percent increase in sales of products they have labeled.?"

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MAJOR GROCER TO LABEL FOODS WITH GENE-MODIFIED CONTENT

Whole Foods Market, the grocery chain, on Friday became the first retailer in the United States to require labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores, a move that some experts said could radically alter the food industry.

A. C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods, said the new labeling requirement, to be in place within five years, came in response to consumer demand. ?We?ve seen how our customers have responded to the products we do have labeled,? Mr. Gallo said. ?Some of our manufacturers say they?ve seen a 15 percent increase in sales of products they have labeled.?

Genetically modified ingredients are deeply embedded in the global food supply, having proliferated since the 1990s. Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States, for example, have been genetically modified. The alterations make soybeans resistant to a herbicide used in weed control, and causes the corn to produce its own insecticide. Efforts are under way to produce a genetically altered apple that will spoil less quickly, as well as genetically altered salmon that will grow faster. The announcement ricocheted around the food industry and excited proponents of labeling. ?Fantastic,? said Mark Kastel, co-director of the Cornucopia Institute, an organic advocacy group that favors labeling.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the trade group that represents major food companies and retailers, issued a statement opposing the move. ?These labels could mislead consumers into believing that these food products are somehow different or present a special risk or a potential risk,? Louis Finkel, the organization?s executive director of government affairs, said in the statement.

Mr. Finkel noted that the Food and Drug Administration, as well as regulatory and scientific bodies including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, had deemed genetically modified products safe.

The labeling requirements announced by Whole Foods will include its 339 stores in the United States and Canada. Since labeling is already required in the European Union, products in its seven stores in Britain are already marked if they contain genetically modified ingredients. The labels currently used show that a product has been verified as free of genetically engineered ingredients by the Non GMO Project, a nonprofit certification organization. The labels Whole Foods will use in 2018, which have yet to be created, will identify foods that contain such ingredients.

The shift by Whole Foods is the latest in a series of events that has intensified the debate over genetically modified foods. Voters defeated a hard-fought ballot initiative in California late last year after the biotech industry, and major corporations like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, spent millions of dollars to fight the effort. Other initiatives have qualified for the ballot in Washington State and Missouri, while consumers across the country have been waging a sort of guerrilla movement in supermarkets, pasting warning stickers on products suspected of having G.M.O. ingredients from food companies that oppose labeling. Proponents of labeling insist that consumers have a right to know about the ingredients in the food they eat, and they contend that some studies in rats show that bioengineered food can be harmful.

Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Just Label It, a campaign for a federal requirement to label foods containing genetically modified ingredients, called the Whole Foods decision a ?game changer.?

?We?ve had some pretty big developments in labeling this year,? Mr. Hirshberg said, adding that 22 states now have some sort of pending labeling legislation. ?Now, one of the fastest-growing, most successful retailers in the country is throwing down the gantlet.?

He compared the potential impact of the Whole Foods announcement to Wal-Mart?s decision several years ago to stop selling milk from cows treated with growth hormone. Today, only a small number of milk cows are injected with the hormone.

Karen Batra, a spokeswoman for BIO, a trade group representing the biotech industry, said it was too early to determine what impact, if any, the Whole Foods decision would have. ?It looks like they want to expand their inventory of certified organic and non-G.M.O. lines,? Ms. Batra said. ?The industry has always supported the voluntary labeling of food for marketing reasons.? 

She contended, however, that without scientific evidence showing that genetically modified foods caused health or safety issues, labeling was unnecessary.

Nonetheless, companies have shown a growing willingness to consider labeling. Some 20 major food companies, as well as Wal-Mart, met recently in Washington to discuss genetically modified labeling.

Coincidentally, the American Halal Company, a food company whose Saffron Road products are sold in Whole Foods stores, on Friday introduced the first frozen food, a chickpea and spinach entree, that has been certified not to contain genetically modified ingredients.

More than 90 percent of respondents to a poll of potential voters in the 2012 elections, conducted by the Mellman Group in February last year, were in favor of labeling genetically modified foods. Some 93 percent of Democrats and 89 percent of Republicans in the poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent, favored it.

But in the fight over the California initiative, Proposition 37, the opponents succeeded in persuading voters that labeling would have a negative effect on food prices and the livelihood of farmers.

That fight, however, has cost food companies in other ways. State legislatures and regulatory agencies are pondering labeling on their own, and consumers have been aggressive in criticizing some of the companies that fought the initiative, using Twitter and Facebook to make their views known.

Buoyed by what they see as some momentum in the labeling war, consumers, organic farmers and food activists plan to hold an ?eat-in? outside the F.D.A.?s offices next month to protest government policies on genetically modified crops and foods. Whole Foods, which specializes in organic products, tends to be favored by those types of consumers, and it enjoys strong sales of its private-label products, whose composition it controls. The company thus risks less than some more traditional food retailers in taking a stance on labeling.

In 2009, Whole Foods began submitting products in its 365 Everyday Value private-label line to verification by the Non GMO Project.

But even Whole Foods has not been immune to criticism on the G.M.O. front. A report by Cornucopia, ?Cereal Crimes,? revealed that its 365 Corn Flakes line contained genetically modified corn. By the time the report came out in October 2011, the product had been reformulated and certified as organic.

Today, Whole Foods? shelves carry some 3,300 private-label and branded products that are certified, the largest selection of any grocery chain in the country.

Mr. Gallo said Whole Foods did not consult with its suppliers about its decision and informed them of it only shortly before making its announcement Friday. He said Whole Foods looked forward to working with suppliers on the labeling.



                                  PART 3

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   WHOLE FOODS MARKET COMMITS TO GMO LABELING BY 2018

SOURCE:  Food Navigator, USA

AUTHOR:  Elaine Watson

URL:     http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/On-your-radar/The-GM-debate/Whole-Foods-Market-commits-to-GMO-labeling-in-all-US-and-Canadian-stores-by-2018

DATE:    08.03.2013

SUMMARY: "As moves to secure GMO labeling continue to gain momentum at a state level, Whole Foods Market has ?put a stake in the ground? and made a commitment to label all products containing genetically modified organisms in its US and Canadian stores by 2018. Co-CEO Walter said customers ?consistently asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on where we have control: In our own stores?. He added: ?The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and for consumers to choose non-GMO products."

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WHOLE FOODS MARKET COMMITS TO GMO LABELING BY 2018

As moves to secure GMO labeling continue to gain momentum at a state level, Whole Foods Market has ?put a stake in the ground? and made a commitment to label all products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in its US and Canadian stores by 2018.

Co-CEO Walter said customers ?consistently asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on where we have control: In our own stores?.

He added: ?The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and for consumers to choose non-GMO products.

?Accordingly, we are stepping up our support of certified organic agriculture, where GMOs are not allowed, and we are working together with our supplier partners to grow our non-GMO supply chain to ensure we can continue to provide these choices in the future.?

The retailer, which began putting its 365 Everyday Value line through Non-GMO Project verification in 2009, now sells 3,300 Non-GMO Project verified products from 250 brands, and will now expand this effort, said Robb.

EWG: WFM move will add new urgency to efforts to require GE labeling in more than 20 states

The move was immediately commended by the national Just Label It campaign, which is urging the FDA to require labeling of GE foods, and the Environmental Working Group, which said it would ?add new urgency to efforts to require GE labeling in more than 20 states?.

Although the highest profile state-level GMO labeling initiative - California?s Prop 37 - was narrowly defeated in November, it has been followed by a series of other bills, or proposals in Vermont, Washington State, New Mexico, Hawaii and several other states.

While some of these initiatives have high-profile industry supporters such as Ben & Jerry?s co-founders Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen, they have, however, been strongly criticized by other food and beverage manufacturers, which argue that labeling foods containing GE ingredients erroneously implies that there is something wrong with them - and will increase costs without benefiting consumers.

Currently, federal law does not require the labeling of genetically engineered foods as the FDA has consistently argued that they do not differ from other foods ?in any meaningful or material way? or present any different or greater safety concerns than foods developed by traditional plant breeding methods.

However, supporters of GMO labeling say the issue is not about safety, per se, but consumer choice.

Is a federal GMO labeling law inevitable?

So what happens next, and is a federal GMO labeling law inevitable given the flurry of state-level initiatives now underway?

While the Grocery Manufacturers Association has consistently opposed GMO labeling initiatives in individual states, several of its members are reported to have attended a meeting in Washington earlier this year to discuss federal labeling options amid concerns that complying with a patchwork of slightly different GMO labeling rules across multiple states could prove to be a nightmare for manufacturers.

Meanwhile, some manufacturers that FoodNavigator-USA spoke to at the Research Chefs Association (RCA) annual conference & culinology expo this week said labeling may not prove as damaging to big brands as some people fear, and that campaigning about the right ?not to label? the technology was in itself making it look sinister, and making them look as if they have something to hide.

PepsiCo R&D chief: Try feeding 9.5bn people without GM crops?.

Dr Mehmood Khan: Do we even have a choice (not to use GM crops)?

As for whether we can get by without genetic engineering in agriculture, PepsiCo chief science officer Dr Mehmood Khan told delegates at the RCA conference today: ?This is a very polarizing question politically?.

But he added: ?Do we even have a choice??

Meanwhile, poor people could not afford to have ?philosophical discussions? about the merits of organic versus GM agriculture, he said, while technologies that enabled yields to increase without using more pesticides, or crops to grow with less water, would be essential if we are to feed more than 9bn people by 2050.

He added: ?70% of the world?s population will be living in urban environments by 2050.? And they would not sustain themselves by growing organic tomatoes in their backyards or window boxes, he said.

?They won?t have back yards? Unless you can solve this with [a better alternative to GMOs] let?s not get high and mighty about this.?



                                  PART 4

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   WHOLE FOODS TO REQUIRE LABELING OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED PRODUCTS

SOURCE:  The Wall Street Journal, USA

AUTHOR:  Dow Jones Newswires, USA, by Kristin Jones

URL:     http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20130308-708917.html#

DATE:    08.03.2013

SUMMARY: "Whole Foods Market Inc. said it will require all products sold in its U.S. and Canadian stores to be labeled for genetically modified ingredients, setting a five-year deadline. The company said the move makes it the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full transparency on genetically modified organisms--or GMO. ?We?re responding to our customers who have consistently asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on where we have control in our own stores,? said Chief Executive Walter Robb."

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WHOLE FOODS TO REQUIRE LABELING OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED PRODUCTS

Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM) said it will require all products sold in its U.S. and Canadian stores to be labeled for genetically modified ingredients, setting a five-year deadline.

The company said the move makes it the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full transparency on genetically modified organisms--or GMO.

?We?re responding to our customers who have consistently asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on where we have control in our own stores,? said Chief Executive Walter Robb.

As it is, said Mr. Robb, the wide prevalence of genetically modified organisms in the U.S. and the lack of mandatory labeling makes it difficult for consumers to select products without any genetically modified ingredients.

Whole Foods said it now has 3,300 products verified as non-GMO. Its store-brand line, 365 Everyday Value, goes through a verification process.

Mr. Robb said the company will increase its support of organic products, and work with partners to grow its supply of products without genetically modified ingredients, or clearly label products containing them.

Whole Foods reported in February that its fiscal first-quarter profit rose 24% as its same-store sales continued to rise and margins grew.

The company, which focuses on natural and organic foods, has seen its sales grow over the past few years as it has successfully drawn more customers away from traditional grocery stores.

Shares were off 55 cents at $85.50 in recent trading. The stock is down 6.2% since the start of the year.



                                  PART 5

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   WHOLE FOODS COMMITS TO GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD LABELS

SOURCE:  Business Week, USA

AUTHOR:  Bloomberg, USA, by Leslie Patton

URL:     http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-03-08/whole-foods-commits-to-genetically-modified-food-labels

DATE:    08.03.2013

SUMMARY: "Whole Foods Market Inc., the largest U.S. natural-foods grocer, said it will label products to indicate whether they contain genetically modified organisms. Whole Foods stores in the U.S. and Canada will label all food in the next five years, the Austin, Texas-based chain said in a statement today. The company, which sells about 3,300 non- genetically modified items, last year supported a measure in California that would have mandated genetically engineered foods to be labeled as such. Proposition 37 failed."

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WHOLE FOODS COMMITS TO GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD LABELS

Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM), the largest U.S. natural-foods grocer, said it will label products to indicate whether they contain genetically modified organisms.

Whole Foods stores in the U.S. and Canada will label all food in the next five years, the Austin, Texas-based chain said in a statement today. The company, which sells about 3,300 non- genetically modified items, last year supported a measure in California that would have mandated genetically engineered foods to be labeled as such. Proposition 37 failed.

?We?re responding to our customers who have consistently asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on where we have control: in our own stores,? co-Chief Executive Officer Walter Robb said in the statement.

Whole Foods, which has recently announced plans to begin opening locations in food deserts, has outperformed the competition. Its shares advanced 31 percent last year, compared with a 7.4 percent gain for Kroger Co.and a 14 percent drop for Safeway Inc., the largest and second-largest U.S. grocery-store chains, respectively.

There are about 345 Whole Foods locations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.



                                  PART 6

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   WHOLE FOODS TO LABEL ALL GENETICALLY MODIFIED PRODUCTS BY 2018

SOURCE:  Los Angeles Times, USA

AUTHOR:  Tiffany Hsu

URL:     http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-whole-foods-gmo-

DATE:    08.03.2013

SUMMARY: "Whole Foods Market, the supermarket chain known for its organic inventory, said Friday that it will aim for ?full GMO transparency? within five years. By 2018, the Austin, Texas, chain plans to slap labels on all products in its U.S. and Canadian stores that qualify as GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. The business has more than 300 emporiums, including seven United Kingdom stores that already require GMO labeling. Whole Foods says it?s the first national grocery chain to set such a deadline."

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WHOLE FOODS TO LABEL ALL GENETICALLY MODIFIED PRODUCTS BY 2018

Whole Foods Market, the supermarket chain known for its organic inventory, said Friday that it will aim for ?full GMO transparency? within five years.

By 2018, the Austin, Texas, chain plans to slap labels on all products in its U.S. and Canadian stores that qualify as GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.

The business has more than 300 emporiums, including seven United Kingdom stores that already require GMO labeling. Whole Foods says it?s the first national grocery chain to set such a deadline.

Whole Foods carries 3,300 products from 250 brands that it says have been verified as being GMO-free. Many items on its shelves also carry credentials covering animal welfare, eco-friendliness and sourcing origins.

?The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and for consumers to choose non-GMO products,? said Walter Robb, co-chief executive of the company, in a statement.

In November, California voters struck down Proposition 37, which would have required the state to mandate labeling on certain produce and processed foods with altered DNA. Whole Foods endorsed the ballot measure.



                                  PART 7

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   GMO LABELING COMING TO WHOLE FOODS MARKET

SOURCE:  Whole Foods Market, USA

AUTHOR:  Walter Robb and A.C. Gallo

URL:     http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/gmo-labeling-coming-whole-foods-market

DATE:    08.03.2013

SUMMARY: "Whole Foods Market commits to full GMO transparency by giving supplier partners five years to source non-GMO ingredients or to clearly label products with ingredients containing GMOs. Today, we stood up for the consumer?s right to know by announcing that all products in our US and Canadian stores containing genetically modified organisms must be clearly labeled within five years. We heard our customers loud and clear asking us for GMO labeling and we are responding where we have control: in our own stores."

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GMO LABELING COMING TO WHOLE FOODS MARKET

Whole Foods Market commits to full GMO transparency by giving supplier partners five years to source non-GMO ingredients or to clearly label products with ingredients containing GMOs.

Today, we stood up for the consumer?s right to know by announcing that all products in our US and Canadian stores containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) must be clearly labeled within five years. We heard our customers loud and clear asking us for GMO labeling and we are responding where we have control: in our own stores.

We are the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full GMO transparency. By 2018, we will require our supplier partners to label products containing GMO ingredients, and we will work in collaboration with them as they transition to sourcing non-GMO ingredients or to clearly labeling products with ingredients containing GMOs.

This is a complicated issue, and we wanted to give our supplier partners enough time to make this change. Fortunately, many of our suppliers are already well on their way to moving to Non-GMO ingredients and a good number are already there. While five years is the deadline, we know there will be progress much sooner and we plan to announce key milestones along the way.

The prevalence of GMOs in the US paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for grocery stores to source non-GMO choices and for consumers to choose non-GMO products. Yet we know our customers care passionately. In fact, Non-GMO? Project verified products are among the fastest growing sellers in our non-perishable grocery category.

For many years, we?ve sourced our 365 Everyday Value products to avoid GMOs in their plant-based ingredients and in 2009, we began putting this line through the Non-GMO Project verification program and encouraged our grocery supplier partners to do the same. Whole Foods Market currently sells 3,300 Non-GMO Project verified products from 250 brands, more than any other retailer in North America. We will continue this important work and our customers will see more and more Non-GMO Project Verified labels on products throughout our stores.

While the US and Canada still have no labeling laws, more than 60 countries do. However, many US states are currently considering mandatory labeling initiatives, like the one in Washington state, where 500,000 citizens signed a petition last year to move the initiative the next step to their state legislature for consideration. Whole Foods Market supports that ballot measure in Washington and hopes it and other such state initiatives will finally lead to one uniform set of rules in support of the consumer?s right to know. There are also efforts that have made GMOs now part of a national conversation. JustLabelIt.org, for instance, has collected over 1.5 million signatures in support of mandatory federal labeling. And while we are encouraged by the many mandatory labeling initiatives, we are committed to moving forward with our own GMO transparency plan now.

Until the GMO labeling requirement is fully effective, shoppers can rely on Non-GMO Project verified products and certified organic products if they want to avoid GMOs. The US National Organic Standards prohibit the intentional use of GMO seed in the production of organic crops. As a pioneer in the US organic food movement for the past 32 years, we offer thousands of organic products, the largest variety in the country. To ensure a growing supply of non-GMO options for our customers, we are stepping up our support of organic and certified products, and we are growing the non-GMO supply chain with our supplier partners.

We are as excited about this announcement as we are dedicated to supporting transparency and our customers? right to know what?s in their food.