(NaturalNews) In the wake of the recent announcement by Whole Foods Market that the retailer will require the labeling of all foods containing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in its stores by 2018, many in the natural health community are now wondering, why the long wait? Whole Foods' reluctance to adopt truth-in-labeling standards in a more timely fashion illustrates that the company's priorities are somewhat muddled, especially since one of its major competitors, Trader Joe's, completely removed GMOs from its product line more than a decade ago without issue.
Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are similar in that both grocers are highly regarded by the natural health community for their extensive selection of "natural" and organic foods, but neither company currently labels the presence of GMOs in its products. But the primary reason why Trader Joe's does not label GMOs, according to an information page posted on the company's website, is that none of its private-label products, which represent the vast majority of products in the store, contain GMOs.
"Our approach to Genetically Modified Organisms is simple: we do not allow GMO ingredients in our private label products (anything with Trader Joe's, Trader Jose's, Trader Ming's, etc. on the label)," explains a Trader Joe's Customer Update from December 12, 2012. "Our efforts began in 2001, when we determined that, given a choice, our customers would prefer to eat foods and beverages made without the use of genetically engineered ingredients."
This is a far cry from how Whole Foods has handled the GMO issue, at least until very recently, despite more than likely having had similar input from its customers. For years, we here at Natural News have been calling on Whole Foods to take action and not only label GMOs in its stores, but also to remove them from its own product line. And while we are pleased that Whole Foods has taken the lead on the labeling issue by at least establishing a timeline for a complete phase-out, Trader Joe's has been much more judicious in actually getting the job done.
"While developing products containing ingredients likely to come from genetically modified sources, we have the supplier of the product perform the necessary research to provide documentation that the suspect ingredients are from non-GMO sources," says Trader Joe's. "This documentation is in the form of affidavits, identity-preserved certification of seed stock, and third-party lab results from the testing of the ingredients in question."
Trader Joe's double checks to make sure its products are actually GMO-free
Beyond this, Trader Joe's explains that it routinely conducts random audits on products sold in its stores that contain "suspect ingredients" in order to ensure that customers are not being exposed to GMOs as a result of potentially unscrupulous suppliers using bad ingredients. This is commendable, as prior to the company's latest update on GMOs, there was no indication as to how Trader Joe's ensures that its products are actually GMO-free.
Meanwhile, Whole Foods offers a much more opaque explanation as to the status of GMOs in its products. While Whole Foods deserves commendation for adopting early and promoting the Non-GMO Project label for its private-label 365 Everyday Value line, many of its products still contain GMOs, despite being marketed as containing "Nothing Artificial, Ever."
"Whole Foods Market has been collaborating with many of its supplier partners for several years to source products without GMO ingredients," states the company, implying that GMOs are still present in at least some of its private-label products. "In 2009, the company began putting its 365 Everyday Value line through Non-GMO Project verification and encouraged its grocery supplier partners to do the same."
Trader Joe's, on the other hand, does not currently use Non-GMO Project verification on any of its private-label products.