HUGE NEWS: Whole Foods Supports Proposition 37, the Mandatory Labeling of GMOs in California

As I have been writing about lately, Proposition 37, the ballot initiative in California that would require the mandatory labeling of GMOs, will be voted on in November and is the most important event in the industry since the USDA approved the National Organic Program more than a decade ago.

Up until this point, however, Whole Foods has been very silent on this issue since the company generally stays out of food politics.

But just minutes ago I got an email from my contact at Whole Foods that blew me away.

Whole Foods has now come out and endorsed Proposition 37! Why?

The company believes that consumers have a right to know how their food is produced.

Here is the entire press release:


Whole Foods Market supports California’s Proposition 37 requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods by January 1, 2014 because it has long believed its customers have the right to know how their food is produced. However, the company has some reservations with the bill as drafted and hopes several issues can be addressed in the implementation phase should voters approve the measure, including: 

1) The use of 0.5% of the total weight as the upper limit for processed foods that contain one or more genetically engineered ingredients to be exempted from labeling is inconsistent with the long-established international labeling standard of 0.9%.

2) The people of California’s best interests will not be properly represented as the enforcement of Proposition 37 will not be handled in partnership with the California Attorney General’s Office to ensure objective guidance and impartial oversight, but instead by private plaintiff attorneys pursuing civil litigation.

Because of the inconsistency in thresholds and the lack of Attorney General oversight, manufacturers could be compelled to label products with “May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” even if it is not the case to avoid costly litigation and protect themselves. This could result in consumers receiving inaccurate information, which is contrary to the intent of the bill itself.

Additionally, Whole Foods Market is encouraged by the parallel effort in Washington State with their proposed Initiative Measure No. 522 as it already addresses some of the concerns of California’s Proposition 37. These two state initiatives could possibly lead to a broader effort to create one federal standard on labeling of genetically engineered foods similar to how the National Organic Standards were formed. One set of rules and uniform support of a consumer’s right to know would ultimately be in the best interest of all.


This is huge, huge news.

Whole Foods is the giant in the organic food world, and we have badly needed the company’s support in this all-important effort.

In its press release, Whole Foods got it right. Consumers have a fundamental right to know what they are eating.

The fact that genetically-engineered ingredients are NOT labeled in the U.S. is one of the most un-American things that I can think of, and politicians ought to be ashamed for allowing this injustice to continue.

Equally as appalling is that the U.S. Patent Office gives patents to GMOs because they are unique and different, but the USDA says GM-food and non-GM-food are essentially the same thing. It is a complete and total sham.

To learn more about the Proposition 37 ballot initiative, click HERE.

To learn which conventional, organic, and natural food companies are trying to defeat Proposition 37 and the mandatory labeling of GMOs, click HERE. (These are also the companies that I am boycotting).

Please get involved, spread the word, and donate money to the California Right to Know initiative.



  • Jackie says:

    Have you seen this video about Whole Foods/GMO/and Prop 37?

    What is your take on this?

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Jackie,

      I had been working 24/7 on the fundraiser we had on Monday and have not had the chance to watch all of it. I did, however, hear about the content.

      Whole Foods sells GMOs, that is well-known. Managers, however, cannot be telling people otherwise. That is unacceptable.

      Whole Foods is not perfect and they make mistakes ,but I remain a big fan of this company and believe that its contribution to the organic industry can never be underestimated. One could make the case that organic is where it is today because of Whole Foods.

      Live well,

  • libby says:

    This is my second entry of the same content. The first was deleted.

    The author’s second concern is inaccurate. The maximum of GMO material allowed under Prop 37 is 5%, not .5%. Products would be allowed not more than .5% of each GMO material up to 10 ingredients.

  • libby says:

    Whole Foods has 2 reservations about Prop 37. Number 1 is inaccurate. Products can contain up to .5% of up to 10 GMO ingredients, for a total of 5% for each product. That is well above the .9% standard in Europe.

    In my opinion far too lenient, but it’s better quite a bit better than nothing.

  • Hi there,
    One concern is if the larger “natural” food companies like WFM and Hain Celestial agree to endorse Prop37 expecting that labeling will not apply to eggs, dairy and meat from animals fed with GMO feed or some GMO ingredients used in food processing..the contamination is unfortunately a reality and the chance of 100% GMO FREE foods is going to be smaller and smaller if the biotechnology industry continues behaving as it has until now!

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Adriana,

      Based on what I know, the language of Prop 37 was originally written in a way that was not overly onerous nor too costly to enforce, and it could cover many of the things causing real problems – processed, packaged foods. The reason that it didn’t include every item was because the people who originally wrote it wanted to make it so that it still had real teeth but wasn’t too strict that initiative couldn’t pass.

      While it may not be as perfect as everyone would like, it is obviously something that Big Ag is very, very concerned about. Just look at the tens of millions they’re spending to defeat it.

      Live well,

  • JasonMChicago says:

    I think this is great news. They will probably give money too… just a matter of time. They wanted to make sure they understood the proposition. I actually do have some questions now. If everyone just writes “may contain GMOs” then we’re at the same place we were now. I assume anything not labled with seal contains GMOs. Well not fresh produce or meat but anything in the packaged goods (which frankly I don’t buy). Thoughts on this? We don’t want everyone to just say “may contain GMOs” I want a real accurate label like in Europe that say “genetically engineered soy” or something like that.

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Jason,

      We’re going to have to see how this all plays out and what the exact labeling language will require, as this is not finalized by the state. The first thing that needs to happen is getting approval in California.

      But, yes, it needs to and will be something like “made with genetically-engineered ingredients”.

      Live well,

  • kerry surface says:


  • Food Babe says:

    But did they give any money?

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Vani,

      That I don’t have an answer to but we need to be happy that they have come out in support of it because for so long they have said nothing.

      Live well,

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