Whole Foods announced Friday that it would require all foods with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled within 5 years? Even though there is ample evidence that GMO foods are identical to conventionally raised crops and zero evidence of any harm? So far over three trillion meals have been served without a single verified side effect.
Does this mean that the anti-science forces of darkness have won? Not really. This is a marketing decision rather than a legal or scientific one. Whole Foods charges premium prices for its organic and “natural” foods and is no doubt confident that “no GMO” labels will allow it to continue this pricing strategy. Since “natural” has no actual meaning, and since organic foods have not been shown to be any more nutritious, and even the “dirty dozen” conventional foods have insignificant pesticide residues, this provides another method to mark up their essentially identical produce and increase their profits.
This is not even a surprising event, considering that the organic food industry has always favored labeling and conventional grocers opposed it for cost reasons.
Moreover, a large quantity of Whole Foods’ products are their 365 private label foods, they are in complete control of the package and labeling at much less cost. Of course compelling all other vendors to follow these strictures may be much more difficult.
The whole issue with labeling of GMO foods is that you do not in general have the right to compel others to incur expense when there is no demonstrated harm. This is the issue that vendors will have to confront if they wish to continue to do business with Whole Foods, and of course, most crops grown in the US are genetically modified.
It will be interesting to see whether they continue to insist that chemically identical sugar from GM sugar beets must be labeled, when the sugar is a pure compound completely indistinguishable from cane sugar.