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Whole Foods agrees to label all GMO foods by 2018 - but why the long wait?

Friday, March 15, 2013 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: Whole Foods, GMO labeling, 2018

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(NaturalNews) After years of dodging the issue, natural grocery chain Whole Foods Market has gone public with plans to require the labeling of all foods sold in its stores that contain genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). The only problem is that the new labeling requirements will not come into effect until 2018, which has already generated quite a bit of controversy as to why this natural and organic leader would wait an additional five years to act on such a pertinent issue.

According to an announcement made on the Whole Foods website, the company is a strong supporter of food labeling transparency, and has been working for years to voluntarily remove GMOs from its 365 Everyday Value line of products. Whole Foods has also been vigilant in supporting the Non-GMO Project, an independent verification system designed to phase out the use of GMOs in foods.

"Our goal at Whole Foods Market is to provide informed consumer choice with regard to genetically engineered ingredients," explains the company on its website. "Accordingly, we have set a deadline that, by 2018, all products in our U.S. and Canadian stores must be labeled to indicate whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Whole Foods Market is the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full GMO transparency."

This move by Whole Foods is unprecedented, as it shows just how far we have come as a society towards achieving real food transparency. It also shows that we may truly be on the cusp of reaching critical mass awareness about the presence of GMOs in the food supply -- millions of Americans now know about GMOs, and many of them are actively trying to avoid GMOs for the health of their families, which is good news for everyone.

Phasing out GMOs takes time, claim some

But why the long wait? Since many of the food products sold at Whole Foods quietly contain GMOs, the retailer is likely giving its suppliers and brands more time to completely phase out the use of GMOs before the deadline so as not to have to label anything by the time 2018 rolls around. What grocer, after all, that claims to sell "nothing artificial, ever," would willingly emblazon the equivalent of a skull and crossbones on some of its products?

Similarly, many ingredients used in food products sold at Whole Foods are still relatively difficult to source organically or from non-GMO sources, claim some in the industry. The vast majority of the nation's sugar beets, canola, corn, and soybeans, for instance, are grown using GM seed stocks. And transitioning GM crop fields to certified-organic ones in order to meet demand can take many years, argue some, which makes it difficult for some companies to convert immediately to non-GMO sources.

On the other hand, many relatively large-scale food producers like family-owned Nature's Path are already using non-GMO, certified organic ingredients in their products without issue, so why can't all the others do the same? It all comes down to priorities, and many so-called "natural" food suppliers are still hesitant to make the switch from GMOs until absolutely necessary -- in this case, by 2018 to meet Whole Foods' new requirements.

Overall, the decision by Whole Foods to require GMO labeling is a positive one, and it will immediately spur a transition from GMOs to non-GMOs for many companies who most assuredly do not want to be identified widely and publicly as using GMOs in their products. It is all just par for the course in continuing to expose GMOs far and wide and eventually forcing a complete phase-out of their use through awareness, and of course support from major players like Whole Foods.

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