As one of the top grocer chains when it comes to natural and organic products, Whole Foods has finally taken action in regards to labeling for GMOs. But what exactly is a GMO, and why is this important?

A GMO, or genetically modified organism, has been manipulated via genetic engineering. In doing so, changes to the structure of the DNA have been made. Products of all kinds can contain GMOs. While there are advocates for GMOs out there, much of the population remains concerned about their safety. To be fair, we should be aware of what is in our food and whether it’s natural or not.

Whole Foods has finally announced that all products in their stores in the U.S. and Canada must be labeled if they contain GMOs by 2018. Of course, this change in production comes at a very interesting time. In November, a vote occurred for Prop 37 which would mandate the labeling of GMOs. However, the initiative didn’t pass to the dismay of many. Even still, a recent poll conducted by The Huffington Post revealed that 82% of Americans would like to see products labeled if they contain these genetically modified organisms. With this outstanding number of people who appear to be concerned or at least curious as to what their foods contain, I think it’s safe to say Whole Foods is the first national grocery store to be taking a step in the right direction.

According to the President of Whole Foods, A.C. Gallo, products with a “non-GMO” label have increased by 15-30% in sales in recent times. Gallo also states that organic products and those without GMOs are the two fastest growing areas when it comes to non-perishable grocers. Again, this shows interest in this kind of labeling as well as non-GMO products in general. And as a chain which boasts natural and organic products, it only seems fitting for Whole Foods to be taking a stance.

While it’s news to us living in North America, the United States and Canada are not the first Whole Foods stores attempting to mandate this type of labeling. In fact, seven stores based in the United Kingdom already require labeling of GMO products, and as a result, most products do not contain those type of genetically modified add ons.

Patty Lovera, a representative of Food and Water Watch (a group that advocates for the environment and consumers), has stated her opinion in that this change by Whole Foods was a “smart move.” She continued to state that, “We’re continuing to work to make this label mandatory because everyone deserves to have that label, not just Whole Foods shoppers…but I think it’s smart on their part to start giving consumers what they want, which is more information.”

So, for Whole Foods, this may be a direction they are heading in. While the grocer is recognized as one containing many organic and natural products, there are items which contain genetically modified organisms at the store. With this labeling initiative, we may soon see results such as what has occurred in the United Kingdom. Products with GMOs may slowly fade away, and Whole Foods could truly go all-natural.

- Elizabeth K.

Image courtesy of Flickr.