Whole Foods Market – Label Genetically Engineered Ingredients (2001 – 2002)

Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn

RESOLVED: Shareholders request the Board of Directors to adopt a policy of identifying and labeling all genetically engineered (GE) ingredients and non-GE ingredients in products sold under the Whole Foods private labels, and report to shareholders by August 2002.
Supporting Statement
In December 1999 Whole Foods Market, Inc., announced a plan to eliminate genetically modified ingredients from its private labels, which include Whole Foods, Whole Kids, and 365 brands. Whole Foods Market, Inc., has not yet followed through on its commitment to give consumers a clear choice of GE free products.
The article “Retailers dropping bio-foods,” by James Cox, on Page 1A of the January 4, 2000, issue of USA TODAY, reported that “Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Markets have vowed to rid most of their private-label foods of bio-engineered corn, soy, canola oil and other ingredients this year. ‘There’s an absolute anger among customers that foods are being genetically modified and they don’t know what ingredients are in their foods,’ says Margaret Wittenberg, vice president at Whole Foods.”
We support Whole Foods Market, Inc.’s plan to ban GE ingredients from its private labels. Until this can be accomplished, consumers have the right to full disclosure of all GE and non-GE ingredients in Whole Foods, Whole Kids, and 365 private label products.
As of August 1, 2001, Whole Foods Market Inc.’s position statement on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) – The Consumer’s Right to Know states:
“Consumers simply have the right to choose for themselves between genetically engineered [GE] and non-genetically engineered products.”
“… we are very concerned about the disruptive effect genetic engineering may have on our environment and whether long-term human health issues have been thoroughly addressed.” July 20, 2001.
Consumers want GE ingredients to be labeled so they can make an informed choice for personal, environmental and ethical reasons. Over a dozen polls in the U.S. show that 70-94% of people surveyed want genetically engineered foods to be labeled as such.
Although Whole Foods Market, Inc., has contributed $10,000 or more to the Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods, it is still denying consumers a choice by not clearly labeling GE ingredients in its own Whole Foods private label products. (http://www.thecampaign.org/friends.htm) This mixed message to consumers is not in Whole Foods Market, Inc.’s best interest.
Vote YES for this proposal to label GE and non-GE ingredients in Whole Foods private label products. We believe Whole Foods Market, Inc., should be a leader in the natural foods industry by voluntarily labeling all genetically engineered and non-GE ingredients in its private label products as it continues to work towards GE free Whole Foods private label products as announced.

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