Stores to Require GMO Transparency (Maui Vision)

gmo-statement-blogIn early March, Whole Foods Market, the supermarket chain best known for its beautiful displays and vast organic inventory, announced that it will “aim for full GMO transparency” within five years.

By 2018, the Austin, Texas-based chain hopes to be able to identify and label all products in its U.S. and Canada stores that qualify as genetically modified organisms or GMOs.

One week later, Hawaii-based Down to Earth made a similar pledge.

“Whole Foods’ announcement is a game changer,” said Mark Fergusson, Down to Earth Chief Organic Officer. “We will monitor and review the situation and may move our implementation date earlier if that becomes possible .”

Down to Earth, which has four stores in Oahu and one on Maui, currently does not sell single-ingredient GMO foods including papaya, corn, soy, canola or sugar.

Both stores cited customers’ concerns as the major reason for the policy change.

“GMOs pose health and environmental risks, and have resulted in increased herbicide use, growth of super-weeds, and loss of biodiversity. GMOs have led to increased control over the food supply by a handful of multinational companies and, simply put, are moving in the wrong direction,” said Fergusson in a statement.

According to a recent poll conducted by Huffington Post and YouGov, 82 percent of Americans want GMO foods to be clearly labeled . Whole Foods President A.C. Gallo told The New York Times that some of their suppliers have “seen sales increases of 15 percent in foods they have labeled .”

While opponents of the labeling initiative claim that GMO identification may lead to the false impression that GMO foods pose health risks, advocates claim that they have the potential for everything from creating new allergens to causing resistance to antibiotics in humans.

Still, some argue that labeling is not enough, implying identification over elimination is more about pleasing investors and staying off corporate toes.

Regardless, no one can argue that it is a step – however small – in the right direction.

(See the entire magazine and sources here.)