Labeling of products made with genetically modified ingredients will soon be mandatory at Whole Foods Market Inc.
The chain, known for its upscale emporiums of healthful and organic foods, has decreed that all items sold in its American and Canadian stores note the presence of genetically modified organisms, or GMO, by 2018.
The Austin, Texas, company says its the first national grocer to set such a deadline. Whole Foods Co-Chief Executive Walter Robb described customer demand for labeling as a steady drumbeat.
This is an issue whose time has come, he said. With cases like horse meat discovered in the U.K., plastic in milk in China, the recalls of almond and peanut butter in the U.S., customers have a fundamental right to know whats in their food.
Activists have long pushed for more transparency on supermarket shelves. Some see Whole Foods pledge as evidence of retailers growing power to force policy changes when voters and regulators cant. The government has not been willing to take on this issue, Robb said. So its going to have to happen differently.