Whole Foods has been under a lot of criticism over how they label their products. They claim that their food is either natural, certified organic, or verified non-GMO, meaning that they do not contain any genetically modified ingredients (GMOs). The controversy about the ethics of the company is over the foods they label as ‘natural’. Although a lot of consumers think that ‘natural’ means that they do not contain GMOs, apparently this is not the case.
Joe Rogoff , the regional president for Whole Foods Market in the Pacific Northwest, responded to the controversy saying that by 2018, Whole Foods will have labels on all its products specifying whether or not they are GMO-free. His intent is to allow his customers to make clear choices, and to avoid any more confusion. “Whole Foods Market is currently working with suppliers to label products as non-GMO because there are no laws that products containing GMOs must be labeled. Our customers have asked for this level of transparency, and in the absence of federal standards, we have taken the initiative with our suppliers on their behalf,” said Rofnoff. “Non-GMO labeling by a third party confers credibility on claims made by the producer, but in order to be fully transparent, information about GMOs should be easy to find on every product. There must also be labels on products that do contain genetically engineered ingredients,” he added.
Whole Foods website states that “[b]y 2018, we will require our supplier partners to label products containing GMO ingredients.” Rognoff says that their goal “is not to eliminate GMOs from our stores, but to have products that may contain GMOs labeled as such. Ultimately, GMO produce, animals that are fed GMO feed, and products that contain GMO ingredients will all be labeled in our stores.”
Although labeling GMO products is beneficial for the consumer because they will be able to make a conscious choice about the foods they buy, it does not help the environment, the local farmers, and still allows people to consume GMO foods that have been banned in twenty-eight countries. Environmentalist David Suzuki says that “[t]he safety of GMO foods is unproven and a growing body of research connects these foods with health concerns and environmental damage. For this reason, most developed nations have policies requiring mandatory labeling of GMO foods at the very least, and some have issued bans on GMO food production and imports.”
Whole Foods says that “[y]ou have the right to know what’s in your food,” but their customers will still be kept in the dark for another three years.
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