Whole Foods Market is partnering with the nonprofit Non-GMO Project to raise awareness about the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the food supply.
"Shoppers want more information about what's happening to their food," said Michael Besancon, Whole Foods Market senior global vice president of purchasing, distribution and marketing. "The Non-GMO Project's program helps us stay true to our mission of offering food in its most natural and unadulterated state. We're committed to this program because it gives us and our suppliers a way to label non-GMO verified products and to educate consumers so they can make informed choices."
Whole Foods Market shoppers can learn more about non-GMO verified products through store displays in October and by visiting the company's website. October 10 is Non-GMO Day, and Whole Foods Market stores throughout the country will offer product tastings and demonstrations.
Genetically engineered varieties of plants such as corn, soy, canola and sugar beets are designed to be able to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. More than 30 countries including Australia, Japan and all of the European Union, have restrictions and/or bans on the production of GMOs because they are not considered proven safe.
According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, approximately 80 percent of the food on grocery store shelves in the U.S. contains at least one GMO ingredient. While Federal law compels organic producers to comply with non-GMO requirements through the USDA organic standards, there is no standard for labeling GMOs in non-organic products.
"Most Americans have no idea that there are GMOs in their food, and may not even know what a GMO is," said Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project. "At the same time, study after study points to potential health risks and consumers in most developed countries around the world won't eat them. Americans deserve the same information and safe choices that consumers in Europe and elsewhere have, and that's what the Non-GMO Project and Non-GMO Month are all about."
The Non-GMO Project, with the support of Whole Foods Market, established America's first third-party non-GMO verified label—the "Non-GMO Project Verified" seal—to help shoppers recognize which products meet rigorous GMO avoidance practices. Verified products range from cereal and snacks to soy beverage products. Unfortunately, due to cross-contamination and pollen drift, very few products in the U.S. are completely free of GMOs, says Whole Foods Market. The Non-GMO Project standard is a process-based standard that avoids the intentional use of GMO ingredients by providing suppliers with procedures and best practices for minimizing the presence of GMO ingredients.
Whole Foods Market has enrolled its 365 Every Day Value store brand in the Non-GMO Project Product Verification Program. The company plans to celebrate the launch of the seal on many other products during Non-GMO Month. Of Whole Foods Market's private label products, several varieties of tortillas chips already bear the seal. For more information about GMOs and Non-GMO Month, visit www.nongmoproject.org.
SOURCE: Whole Foods Market