| LOS ANGELES, March 8
LOS ANGELES, March 8 Whole Foods Market Inc
will require all products sold in its U.S. and Canadian
stores to carry a label by 2018 saying whether they contain
genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the organic and natural
grocery seller said on Friday.
The United States is the world's largest market for foods
made with genetically altered ingredients. Many popular
processed foods - including soy milk, soup and breakfast cereal
- are made with soybeans, corn and other biotech crops whose
genetic traits have been manipulated, often to make them
resistant to insects and pesticides.
Whole Foods said the prevalence of GMOs in the United
States, coupled with a lack of labeling requirements, has made
it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and
for consumers to identify them.
"We are stepping up our support of certified organic
agriculture, where GMOs are not allowed, and we are working
together with our supplier partners to grow our non-GMO supply
chain," Walter Robb, co-chief executive of Whole Foods, said in
The United States does not require safety testing for
genetically modified ingredients before they go to market. The
food industry says the products are safe, but critics say there
is a not enough independent research to make that determination.
"We're responding to our customers, who have consistently
asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on
where we have control: in our own stores," Robb said.
The announcement from Whole Foods comes as the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration appears to be on the path to approving
genetically engineered salmon.
At the same time, consumer groups are working at the state
and federal level to require labels on products that contain
Dozens of countries already have genetically modified food
labeling requirements, with the European Union imposing
mandatory labeling in 1997. Since then, genetically modified
products and crops have virtually disappeared from those
Whole Foods in 2009 began putting its 365 Everyday Value
product line through non-GMO verification. The chain currently
sells 3,300 non-GMO Project verified products, such as its
organic tofu, and plans to increase that number.