Whole Foods pauses on its promised GMO labeling mandate
Whole Foods pauses on its promised GMO labeling mandate as the USDA considers its own proposed requirements
Whole Foods has put a pause on its plan to mandate that its food suppliers label all foods that have contain genetically modified organisms.
After making a name for itself as the top national retailer of organic foods, Whole foods announced in 2015 that it would implement strict rules on clear labeling of these products by 2018.
The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is mostly intended to make food products more robust, but the practice has become controversial as some animal studies have linked GMOs to infertility and immune system issues.
Whole Foods promised requirements were meant to protect a customer’s ‘right to know what they are eating.
In an email to suppliers, however, Whole Foods’s president said that the company would hold off on introducing its requirements until the US Department of Agriculture finalized its own rules, Fox Business reported.
Whole Foods is reportedly holding off on its plan to require all food suppliers to disclose GMOs in their products’ labels
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have long been a source of controversy in the agricultural industry and health and environmental circles.
The catch-all acronym most commonly refers to changes made to the DNA of crops or animals to make them more robust in various environments, make them resistant to herbicides, immune to certain diseases or to make them grow bigger.
Large farms love GMOs because they help to ensure they’ll have a better yield from the products they raise. Small farms hate them because they don’t have access to all of the same advancements, which makes it hard for them to compete.
Some environmental and health experts say that these are nothing new, just advancements built upon what nature does, and what farmers have been doing for centuries through selective breeding.
Other environmentalists and, healthy and organic eating advocates warn that the repercussions of using these seeds may exceed the advantages they offer.
Whole Foods, which finds itself squarely between the growers that supply its shelves and its health-conscious, organic-loving customer base, seemed to decide on a compromise in 2015: labeling.
The grocery giant, which sold to Amazon for $13.7 billion last year, promised in 2015 that it would require any of its suppliers that used GMOs to label their products.
‘At Whole Foods Market, we believe you have the right to choose what’s in your food, and we are committed to GMO (genetically modified organism) transparency,’ the company says on its site.
But now, it has reportedly backed quietly away from its campaign for clarity.
In the email, as reported by Fox, Whole Foods said that it was holding off in view of the upcoming ruling form the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on GMO labeling.
The USDA’s current proposal would allow GMO labeling to come in the form of a QR code that consumers would have to scan with their phones to get information about the DNA of the foods they were putting in their shopping carts.
It also may have some slippery loopholes for various kinds of meats.
As proposed, Whole Foods’s labeling plan mentioned no such options.
The USDA proposed its own rules in early May, and, according to Fox, told suppliers: ‘As the USDA finalizes the federal regulation in the coming months and the food industry assesses the impact, we do not want our Policy to pose further challenges for you and your business.’