Austin-based Whole Foods Market has announced that by 2018 all products in U.S. stores must be labeled to indicate if they contain any genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This move by the natural and organic foods retailer marks the biggest step in a growing movement led by consumers and various activist groups who want greater transparency about the ingredients and alterations in products they purchase.
"We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer's right to know," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. "The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult to select non-GMO products."
In 2009, Whole Foods began a Non-GMO Project for its 365 Everyday Value line and has more than 3,300 products on its shelves under the label. The store is essentially expanding this directive to get all suppliers on board, or label otherwise.
The watch dog group Just Label It, a national coalition spearheading the effort to get the FDA to require labeling of genetically engineered foods, applauds the move by Whole Foods, pointing out that Americans should demand the same rights already afforded to consumers in 62 other countries. This is certainly a big step towards that goal, at least for Whole Foods shoppers.