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CONSUMERS & REGULATION: Whole Foods Market, Inc. (WFM): What’s behind the decision to label GMOs in their stores?



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   WHOLE FOODS MARKET, INC. (WFM): WHAT?S BEHIND THE DECISION TO LABEL GMOS IN THEIR STORES?

SOURCE:  MArket Daily News, USA

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://marketdailynews.com/2013/03/11/whole-foods-market-inc-wfm-whats-behind-the-decision-to-label-gmos-in-their-stores/

DATE:    11.03.2013

SUMMARY: "Whole Foods cites customers? concerns as a major reason for its change in policy. One picture of the future: by overwhelming popular acclaim, non-GMO products at Whole Foods stores will squeeze out GMO products. The other picture? At some point, customers will lose interest in the new labeling program and buy whatever they want to eat, regardless of whether it contains GMOs. Monsanto views labeling as less than ideal, but far better than outright county-by-county bans on growing GMO crops. Several counties in California, for example, have already enacted such bans. That?s the real threat to the Monsanto crime empire."

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WHOLE FOODS MARKET, INC. (WFM): WHAT?S BEHIND THE DECISION TO LABEL GMOS IN THEIR STORES?

Jon Rappoport: Whole Foods Market, Inc. has announced that, by 2018, it will label all products in its stores that contain genetically-modified ingredients.

Mike Adams, at naturalnews.com, has written an excellent article covering this development. You should read it.

Whole Foods cites customers? concerns as a major reason for its change in policy. One picture of the future: by overwhelming popular acclaim, non-GMO products at Whole Foods stores will squeeze out GMO products.

The other picture? At some point, customers will lose interest in the new labeling program and buy whatever they want to eat, regardless of whether it contains GMOs.

Monsanto views labeling as less than ideal, but far better than outright county-by-county bans on growing GMO crops. Several counties in California, for example, have already enacted such bans. That?s the real threat to the Monsanto crime empire.

Monsanto, with its very deep pockets, can sustain an endless propaganda campaign aimed at convincing consumers that GMO food is equivalent, in all ways, to non-GMO. So far, this PR blitz has won over most politicians, as well as a major sector of the technologically-educated class.

So what will happen, up the road, as Whole Foods customers move beyond their initial excitement at being able to tell whether they?re buying GMOs? Will they continue to care? Or will the labels evoke about as much interest as fat and carb content do now?

If Whole Foods? buying public falls into apathy on the GMO issue, presumably the stores will continue to offer GMO products in profusion, because the cash registers keep ringing.

As Whole Foods bosses calculate their strategies, there is another obvious point that must be hammered home. Again. GMO food is nutritionally polluted, deficient, and, in the case of the Roundup Ready crops, drenched with far more toxic chemicals than would ordinarily be present.

Farmers across America, who have locked themselves into contracts with Monsanto, are now facing disaster, because superweeds that don?t fold up and die under assault from the Roundup herbicide are taking over their growing fields.

So the farmers are doing what are called burndowns. Not once, but several times a year, they?re saturating their land with chemicals stronger than Roundup, like Paraquat, which has been banned in 32 countries. The burndowns are undertaken to kill the march of the superweeds. This means more toxicity in the soil and in the food crops.

To present customers with the choice of buying GMO or non-GMO food in stores isn?t like making a distinction between red tomatoes and orange tomatoes. It?s not even an assertion that GMOs are unhealthy. It?s: ?let the customer decide.?

By this logic, selling food containing, say, high levels of mercury, is acceptable because ?people want it.?

The trouble, of course, begins with Monsanto and its government-agency allies, who insist, based on nothing, that GMOs are safe and non-toxic. From there, it appears that consumer choice is sane policy.

But it isn?t sane. That?s an illusion.

Yes, we can say that Whole Foods has made a step in the right direction, but that?s only true if its customers will really shun GMOs. And in the meantime, this ?let the consumer decide? is a deception.

?Well, we?re in business to make money. We can?t just strip all GMO products off the shelves. We have to bow to the free market, to the customer.?

If that?s really Whole Foods? position, then let them state it clearly. Don?t beat around the bush while you?re breaking your arm patting yourself on the back.

?Yes, like every other retailer in America, we?re selling bad products. We know they?re bad. They?re called GMOs. Nobody should be eating GMOs, but what the hell are we going to do??

Of course, this kind of honesty would be a killer in the world of consumerism. It?s also one reason why GMO food has proliferated to this point. It?s a rare company that wants to step up to the plate and speak the unvarnished truth.

?Hey, we sell shit. Lots of it. But don?t blame us. You people want to buy it. You want it, we stock it. That?s the reality.?

Try this one on for size. Do you support the sale of ANYTHING, no matter WHAT it contains? Do you support poison in food, along with a major operation of concealment, so that the majority of the buying public isn?t informed that the poison is in their food? Is that okay? Is that LEGAL?

The answer to the last question is, of course, no. It?s not legal.

Unless corporate and government liars have been able to make it legal by passing the buck of responsibility and selling their souls to foist a clear criminal conspiracy on the citizenry. Which is exactly what happened.

Whole Foods, according to their statements, is betting on the consumer to dictate what the stores will sell. Underneath it all, Whole Foods seems to be saying, ?We?re standing here watching you consumers, and we hope you make the right choice. Because a lot of that crap you?re buying now, in our stores, is no good for you. It?s bad. If you wake up and make your enlightened preferences known, we?ll follow and we?ll cheer your decision. But if not, we?ll keep selling you the food that?s bad for you and should be illegal.?

I don?t find myself applauding that position. I don?t find myself feeling warm inside about Whole Foods.

Again, yes, it?s better than nothing. But many things are better than nothing and yet don?t rise to the level of a peace prize, or a medal, or a misty response of heartfelt joy.

For the next five years, as Whole Foods starts labeling GMO products in their stores, they should undertake a full-bore education campaign across America. They should book halls and have their execs stand up and say:

?You know that big sign we have posted on our stores? ?Nothing artificial, ever?? That?s bullshit. Listen, for a lot of years now, you the consumer and we the seller have been involved in a scam. It?s called GMO food. We want this to end. We also don?t want to go broke. Help us and help yourselves. Here?s the complete evidence that we?ve been selling, and you?ve been buying, food that is harmful to your health. You and we are in an embrace, in this very bad spiral. We have to get out of it.?

That would be a start, but the chances of it happening are on a par with a flea driving a Mercedes on the moon.

And it wouldn?t begin to address the fact that toxic GMO food shouldn?t, by any reasonable law, be sold at all.

You also might keep an eye on corporate mergers and acquisitions, just in case Whole Foods decides to sell itself to a larger (and more predatory) company. Anything could happen in the next five years.

Here are a few of the largest shareholders in Whole Foods. They?re investment funds: JP Morgan Large Cap Growth Select; Wells Fargo Advantage Growth Inv; Fidelity Growth Company; JNL/Mellon Cap Management; T Rowe Price Growth Stock. Given this array of stock owners, it might be easier to step out into the spotlight and promote GMO labeling than to say, ?Look, we?re eliminating GMO products from our stores, they?ll all be gone in a few years, no matter what.?

And what will Whole Foods do if, as they gradually place GMO labels on their products, those products continue to sell about as well as they?re selling now with no labels? Will the company keep pushing its pure agenda, or will it simply acquiesce, and end up with a half-GMO and half-non-GMO inventory, to ?accommodate all tastes??

An analogous question, to put this all into perspective: should drug companies manufacture vaccines with half the vials containing the neurotoxin mercury and half without mercury, so people can choose?

Finally, as food prices escalate (seemingly every week), who are these theoretically enlightened customers who?ll ultimately determine Whole Foods? GMO policy? Are they, on balance, tough-mindedly dedicated to better health and even activism, or are they are merely following and then abandoning trends: from the $1000 bicycle and the grasshopper helmet and shiny Spandex, to the raw cashew vegan non-dairy ice cream, to the quinoa and kale and chia salad, to the Google Glass, to the gluten-free baby stroller?

Are these the people into whose hands Whole Foods is dropping its destiny? Is this the cutting edge of the non-GMO movement?

Jon Rappoport

The author of an explosive collection, THE MATRIX REVEALED, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at www.nomorefakenews.com

*********************

In the below report, Infowars Nightly News investigative team Melissa Melton and Aaron Dykes uncovered the ugly facts about the ?organic elite? cooperating with Big Agra, the USDA and even Monsanto, all while deceptively positioning themselves to customers under misleading premises.

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22449.cfm

http://www.naturalnews.com/037329_Whole_Foods_GMO_undercover_video.html



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION RESPONDS TO WHOLE FOODS PLAN TO LABEL GMOS BY 2018

SOURCE:  Organic Consumers Association, USA (OCA)

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_27166.cfm

DATE:    11.03.2013

SUMMARY: "?We are pleased that Whole Foods has finally recognized consumers? right to know about GMOs,? said Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the OCA. ?This is a major victory for U.S. consumers who have for far too long been denied basic information which would enable them to make safe, healthy food choices. This also represents a major defeat for Monsanto [...?] But the Whole Foods plan does not go far enough, Cummins said. ?We ask that Whole Foods step up its timetable for GMO labeling, to coincide with the July 2015 deadline prescribed by I-522, the citizens? initiative for GMO labeling in Washington State. We also call on Whole Foods to stop selling products that contain GMOs under the misleading ?natural? label, and to require any product in its store called ?natural? be GMO-free.?"

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ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION RESPONDS TO WHOLE FOODS PLAN TO LABEL GMOS BY 2018

Food Retailer?s Plan to Label GMOs a Victory for Grassroots Food Activists and Consumers, but Five-Year Timetable not Comprehensive or Aggressive Enough

FINLAND, Minn. - The million-strong Organic Consumers Association (OCA), North America?s leading watchdog over organic and fair trade standards, said today that it is encouraged by Whole Foods Markets? plan, announced last week, to support consumers? right to know by requiring labeling of all foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in its U.S. and Canadian stores by 2018.

However, the OCA called on Whole Foods, the nation?s largest national organic foods retailer, to move up its labeling deadline to July 2015, and to take the lead in the organic industry to end deceptive labeling practices by requiring all the stores? products that include the word ?natural? in their labeling or packaging to be GMO-free.

?We are pleased that Whole Foods has finally recognized consumers? right to know about GMOs,? said Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the OCA. ?This is a major victory for U.S. consumers who have for far too long been denied basic information which would enable them to make safe, healthy food choices. This also represents a major defeat for Monsanto and the rest of the biotech industry who have been deceiving consumers since they first conspired more than 20 years ago with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to falsely convince consumers that genetically modified foods are no different than foods that don?t contain organisms created by manipulating DNA in laboratories or by injecting seeds with bacteria and pesticides.?

But the Whole Foods plan does not go far enough, Cummins said. ?We ask that Whole Foods step up its timetable for GMO labeling, to coincide with the July 2015 deadline prescribed by I-522, the citizens? initiative for GMO labeling in Washington State. We also call on Whole Foods to stop selling products that contain GMOs under the misleading ?natural? label, and to require any product in its store called ?natural? be GMO-free.?

Washington?s I-522 is expected to pass in November 2013, becoming the first statewide mandatory GMO labeling law. The law establishes July 2015 as the deadline for compliance. Whole Foods Markets already complies with the U.K.?s mandatory GMO labeling law in its seven stores in that country.

Whole Foods came under fire last year when the company dragged its feet in supporting Proposition 37, California?s Right to Know GMO Labeling citizens? initiative. In October, CEO John Mackey confirmed in a blog post that Whole Foods stores knowingly sell Monsanto?s genetically modified corn, without labeling it.

Last week, the OCA launched a new nationwide campaign: Organic Retail and Consumer Alliance (ORCA). The new alliance will aggressively promote organic food and products, and expose and eliminate the rampant ?natural? labeling and marketing fraud that has slowed the growth of America?s $30-billion dollar organic sector.

?Routine mislabeling and marketing fraud has confused millions of U.S. consumers, and enabled the so-called ?natural? foods and products sector to grow into a $60-billion- a-year powerhouse, garnering twice as many sales in 2012 as certified organic products,? said Cummins. ?It?s time we stopped allowing food companies to market unhealthy food products, containing GMOs, pesticides, and synthetic and chemical compounds, as ?natural,? and we call on Whole Foods Market to take the first step.?

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:   WHOLE FOODS? LABELING DECISION DRAWS CRITICISM

SOURCE:  Mississippi Business Journal, USA

AUTHOR:  Clay Chandler

URL:     http://msbusiness.com/magnoliamarketplace/2013/03/12/whole-foods-labeling-decision-draws-criticism/

DATE:    12.03.2013

SUMMARY: "Late last week, Whole Foods Market became the first national grocery chain to mandate labeling of genetically engineered foods. [...] Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb said the five year window would make the transition easier on the grocer?s suppliers. ?This is a complicated issue, and we wanted to give our supplier partners enough time to make this change,? [...] ?While this is a step in the right direction, Whole Foods? customers shouldn?t have to wait another half decade to get common sense labeling of genetically engineered ingredients in their products that they sell unlabeled every day,? said Dave Murphy [, founder of Food Democracy Now!]."

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WHOLE FOODS? LABELING DECISION DRAWS CRITICISM

Late last week, Whole Foods Market became the first national grocery chain to mandate labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Labeling genetically engineered foods ? sometimes called GMO or genetically modified foods ? have been ballot issues in a couple western U.S. states, including California and Washington. The measure died last November in California. It will appear on the ballot in Washington this November.

Supporters of the labeling say it?s needed so consumers can know what they?re buying. Supermarket chains opposed the measures, citing legal liability concerns. GMO producers like Monsanto also opposed the measure, disputing claims that the products were unsafe.

Whole Foods will not start labeling GMO in its American and Canadian stores until 2018. The grocer?s Jackson store in Highland Village is currently under construction and is scheduled to open this fall.

Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb said the five year window would make the transition easier on the grocer?s suppliers.

?This is a complicated issue, and we wanted to give our supplier partners enough time to make this change,? he said in a March 8 letter posted on the company?s website. ?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.?

GMO opponents reacted to Whole Foods? decision generally unfavorably.

Food Democracy Now, which supported California?s measure and is doing the same in Washington, said Whole Foods should start the labeling process immediately.

?While this is a step in the right direction, Whole Foods? customers shouldn?t have to wait another half decade to get common sense labeling of genetically engineered ingredients in their products that they sell unlabeled every day,? said Dave Murphy, the organization?s founder. Murphy, who co-chaired the push to pass the ballot measure in California, said its chances of passage would have increased had Whole Foods supported the measure sooner than it did.

Whole Foods? Jackson location will be the first in Mississippi. Construction started on the 30,000 square-foot store in November.



                                  PART 4

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TITLE:   WHOLE FOODS PROMISES TO LABEL GMO INGREDIENTS BY 2018

SOURCE:  Food Democracy Now!, USA

AUTHOR:  Clare Leschin-Hoar

URL:     http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/blog/2013/mar/10/whole_foods_promises_to_label_gmos_2018/

DATE:    10.03.2013

SUMMARY: "When Whole Foods top brass announced this morning that they?d set a deadline requiring labeling of all products that contain genetically modified ingredients sold in their U.S. and Canadian stores, the room, filled with 400 suppliers, exploded with applause. The company?s president, A.C. Gallo, and co-CEO, Walter Robb, received a standing ovation.

And this is indeed big news: Whole Foods is the first national grocery chain to establish a deadline for GMO transparency. ?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 Robb in a statement."

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WHOLE FOODS PROMISES TO LABEL GMO INGREDIENTS BY 2018

When Whole Foods top brass announced this morning that they?d set a deadline requiring labeling of all products that contain genetically modified ingredients sold in their U.S. and Canadian stores, the room, filled with 400 suppliers, exploded with applause. The company?s president, A.C. Gallo, and co-CEO, Walter Robb, received a standing ovation.

And this is indeed big news: Whole Foods is the first national grocery chain to establish a deadline for GMO transparency.

?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 Robb in a statement.

Grassroots efforts to get genetically modified foods labeled has been in the works for years. But it was California?s high-profile, failed Proposition 37 ballot initiative that?s given fuel to the GMO labeling momentum in states like Washington, Vermont and elsewhere.

Food items can contain a number of ingredients that come from plants that have been genetically modified, including corn, soybean, canola and sugar beets. While some genetic modification is done to resist disease (as in the case of Hawaii?s papaya crop), commodity crops like corn and soybeans are primarily modified to withstand the herbicide glyphosate or tweaked to resist pesticides. Products containing genetically modified ingredients are required to have labeling in 60 countries, but not in the U.S.

Kate Lowery, spokesperson for Whole Foods, tells TakePart they established a five-year deadline to give suppliers time to source ingredients or change formulations, if necessary, but expect many to comply earlier.

Since 2009, the chain has been working with the Non-GMO Project, a nonprofit, third-party verification and labeling organization. Whole Foods currently carries over 3,300 verified non-GMO items from 250 brands. The products are the store?s fastest-growing category of nonperishable items.

While the move is seen positively by industry watchdog groups, including the Environmental Working Group and the Just Label It Coalition, many recall Whole Foods? absence in the early days of the California labeling effort.

?Had they supported Prop. 37 sooner, Americans may have labeling right now,? said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! and co-chair of the California Right to Know Yes on 37 campaign.

It wasn?t until mid-September of last year that Whole Foods finally endorsed Proposition 37, mere weeks before it went before voters. According to the Los Angeles Times, that endorsement came with the stipulation that the company felt 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.?

While Murphy says this is a step in the right direction, he thinks the five-year deadline is too generous.

?Whole Foods? customers shouldn?t have to wait another half decade to get common-sense labeling of genetically engineered ingredients in their products that they sell unlabeled every day,? he tells TakePart.

It?s unclear exactly how the store?s new policy will impact the overall industry, but Lowery says they expect it will have a ripple effect.

?If they?re already labeling for Whole Foods, it will probably appear in other stores because those companies aren?t just supplying product for us,? she says. ?That, paired with the state labeling initiatives currently happening? I think it?s going to have a big effect. Suppliers are going to start asking those deeper questions because the consumer is demanding it, and you give the consumer what they want.?