Whole Foods Market executives emailed suppliers last Friday to announce that the company will delay the rollout of its GMO Labeling Policy. The company’s comprehensive labeling policy was slated for September 1st. They have not announced a new timeline for the policy.
In a copy of the announcement obtained by The New Food Economy, Gallo and two vice presidents write that the pause is a response to suppliers’ concerns about having to comply with two competing sets of rules: Whole Foods’ own GMO labeling requirements, and rules newly proposed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which are currently open for public comment.”
The confusion is understandable. As currently proposed, the USDA policy would make several substantive changes to the way GMOs have traditionally been defined by the food industry—starting with the terminology itself. The government’s preferred nomenclature is “bioengineered” (BE), which only refers to a food that has had another organism’s genes spliced into it by a process called transgenesis. Other types of genetic modification, including some produced by gene-editing tools like CRISPR, would not need to be labeled. – New Food Economy
Whole Foods previously announced that it soon would require food suppliers to “label products that contain genetically modified (GMO) risk ingredients and were not third-party verified as non-GMO or organic.”
Whole Foods stated in a separate memo that all suppliers still must acquire third-party verification by a Whole Foods-approved program for any “non-GMO” claims on the food labels.