After being ousted for totally hypocritically selling Monsanto GMO-ridden products, Whole Foods announced that it will label all genetically modified food products in stores — the first time that a major retailer has done so. Consumer protection advocates (and most yuppie shoppers in yoga pants) everywhere are calling this a huge victory.
While interest groups and activists across the country want GMO labeling to be mandatory under federal law, this is the first time that a food retailer — much less a major corporation — will do so. Plenty of packaged products have genetically modified organisms as ingredients (soybeans that produce their own “insecticide,” for instance). But at the high-priced health food emporium, these products caused a particular stir. Of course, Whole Foods’ latest move isn’t purely altruistic or philosophical, as the New York Times reports:
A. C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods, said the new labeling requirement, to be in place within five years, came in response to consumer demand. “We’ve seen how our customers have responded to the products we do have labeled,” Mr. Gallo said. “Some of our manufacturers say they’ve seen a 15 percent increase in sales of products they have labeled.”
But while the move to label genetically modified food products might be driven by profit, it does reflect a nationwide demand for honest labeling: a poll conducted by the Mehlman Group before the 2012 election found that 93% of Democrats and 89% of Republicans (+/- 3%) were in favor of labeling genetically modified foods — and, with the multiple food safety and labeling scandals hitting the news lately, these supporters will likely grow increasingly vocal.
On the other hand, discovering which conveniently frozen dinners contain genetically modified products might turn a vegan stomach or two.
UPDATE: Whole Foods tells us, via Twitter, that the labeling program won’t kick in until 2018. Food activists put their victory lap on hold for half a decade.
@thebraiser By 2018 we will label all products in our stores that contain GMOs so you can make conscious choices
— Whole Foods Market (@WholeFoods) March 11, 2013
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