Whole Foods Market is the first retailer in the U.S. to require labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores. The new labeling requirement is to be in place within five years. Whole Foods President A.C. Gallo says the decision is a response to consumer demand. Gallo says they’ve seen how their customers have responded to the products that aren’t labeled. He says some manufacturers have seen a 15-percent increase in sales of products they have labeled.
The Cornucopia Institute - an organic advocacy group - was thrilled. The Grocery Manufacturers Association opposed the move - stating the labels could mislead consumers into believing that the food products are somehow different or present a special risk or potential risk. The group’s executive director of government affairs noted that the Food and Drug Administration and regulatory and scientific bodies including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association have deemed genetically modified products safe.
The chairman of Just Label It - a campaign for a federal requirement to label foods containing genetically modified ingredients - calls the Whole Foods decision a game changer. At the Biotechnology Industry Organization - Karen Batra says it’s too early to determine what impact the decision will have. She says it looks like the company wants to expand its inventory of certified organic and non-GMO lines and notes the industry has always supported voluntary labeling of food for marketing reasons. Still - without scientific evidence showing genetically modified foods cause health or safety issues - Batra says labeling is unnecessary.