Whole Foods Market partners with Non-GMO Project to label company’s private label food products using new third-party standard
July 7, 2009
Whole Foods Market today announced a commitment to the Non-GMO Project –a non-profit collaboration of manufacturers, retailers, processors, distributors, farmers, seed breeders and consumers – to use the Non-GMO’s Product Verification Program (PVP) in connection with Whole Foods Market’s private label products.
Whole Foods will submit its private label products to testing for genetically engineered organisms–a move that will add a new level of certification to what’s on the organic and natural grocer’s shelves.
Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods will work with the Non-GMO Project, a nonprofit collaborative of manufacturers, retailers, processors, distributors, farmers and others. The product verification program is the reportedly the nation’s first system designed to scientifically test whether a product has met a set of defined standards for the presence of genetically engineered or modified organisms.
“From the moment GMOs were approved for use in the U.S., we recognized the need for transparency, but there was no definitive standard by which to evaluate or label products,” said Margaret Wittenberg, Whole Foods Market global vice president of quality standards. “We searched high and low for years for a way to do this and now, thankfully, the Non-GMO Project has answered that challenge by creating a standard and a practical system by which manufacturers may measure their products. At last, shoppers concerned about foods made with genetically modified ingredients will be able to make informed choices.”
According to the FDA, as much as 75 percent of processed food in the United States may contain components from genetically modified crops. Despite the abundance of products with genetically modified ingredients, a Pew Initiative study on food and biotechnology shows that 59 percent of Americans are unfamiliar with the issue of genetically modified ingredients in food.
While Federal law requires organic producers to comply with certain non-GMO requirements identified in the USDA organic standards, there is no standard for labeling GMOs in non-organic products.
The process combines on-site facility audits, document-based review and DNA testing to measure compliance with the standard. For a product to bear the seal it must undergo a process through which any ingredient at high risk for genetic contamination–soy or corn, for example–has been shown to meet the non-GMO standard through avoidance practices and testing.
Once a product has been approved it can be described as being verified by the Non-GMO Project and/or labeled with the Non-GMO Project’s compliance seal. The first Whole Foods Market private label products to bear this seal are expected to be in stores before the end of the year.
Whole Foods Market joins other grocers who are already partnered with the Non-GMO Project, including The Natural Grocery Co., The Big Carrot Natural Food Market and Good Earth Natural Foods.