Whole Foods Market(TM) (Nasdaq: WFMI), the world’s leading natural and organic food retailer, launched a consumer write-in campaign to the FDA today in opposition to the Agency’s recently-announced new rule and guidance on the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.

The current proposed FDA policies only suggest voluntary labeling of GE foods and no pre-market safety testing. By urging the FDA to amend the new GE rules and guidance, Whole Foods Market is reiterating its commitment to consumer choice. Margaret Wittenberg, Vice President of Governmental and Public Affairs for Whole Foods Market believes that voluntary labeling actually does nothing for the consumer’s right to know and that it is no substitute for mandated labeling. The FDA’s proposal for mandatory reviews of a new genetically engineered food should also include required pre-market safety testing before it is accepted into commerce.

“Only mandatory labeling fulfills our customers’ desires to make conscious choices about buying GE foods,” said Wittenberg. “The FDA’s new proposal — that requires food producers to notify the agency before marketing a GE food– is missing a very important component: mandatory safety testing.

To enable consumers to quickly respond during the FDA’s public consultation period — which ends April 3rd — Whole Foods Market is placing free feedback postcards directed to FDA at the store’s “Take Action” centers in its 121 stores nationwide. Sending in a postcard voices opposition to the proposed rule on pre-market notification (docket number 00N-1396) and the Agency’s guidance on voluntary labeling (docket number 00D-1598). Sample letters to the FDA can also be found on the Whole Foods Market website at: www.wholefoodsmarket.com.

Specifically, concerned citizens can add their own comments in addition to checking off the following points they agree with on the postcards before sending them in to the FDA Commissioner:


  • All GE foods should be labeled so I am informed and have a choice.
  • GE foods should not be assumed to be “generally recognized as safe” and should have mandatory pre-market safety testing
  • There should be a moratorium on GE foods until long-term studies show they are safe for human health and the environment.

Whole Foods Market has maintained its stance on GE foods since 1992 when the company first alerted its customers about the potential risks of the new technology that has not yet been deemed safe for human health and the environment. The company — in addition to supporting mandatory labeling and pre-market safety testing of products that contain genetically modified ingredients — is committed to avoiding genetically engineered ingredients in its own private label product lines including the Whole Foods(TM), 365 Everyday Value(TM) and Whole Kids(TM) brands.

Genetic modification of crops, livestock and ingredients in processed foods is not allowed in organic food production, a standard codified by the U.S. department of agriculture in its current proposed National Organic Standards. In accordance with this, Whole Foods Market is pleased to offer the largest array of organic produce and grocery products made without genetically modified ingredients.

WHOLE FOODS, WHOLE PEOPLE, WHOLE PLANET(TM)

Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market owns and operates the largest chain of natural food supermarkets and is the world’s largest retailer of natural and organic foods. In fiscal year 2000, the company had sales of $1.8 billion and currently has 121 stores across 22 states and the District of Columbia.

The Whole Foods Market® motto, “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet” captures the company’s mission to be more than just a food and grocery retailer. Its success in fulfilling its mission is measured by customer satisfaction, team member excellence and happiness, enhancing shareholder value, community support, and improvement in the state of the environment.

Whole Foods Market operates stores under the following names: Whole Foods Market, Fresh Fields(TM), Bread & Circus(TM) and Wellspring Grocery(TM). The company employs more than 18,000 team members and has been ranked for four years in a row as one of the “Top 100 Companies to Work for in America” by Fortune magazine. For further information, visit the company’s Website at www.wholefoodsmarket.com.