label products in the Project. Then,
The New York Times featured an article
about the Project on page one of the
business section on August 28. In September, Michael Funk, chairman of
United Natural Foods International
(UNFI), sent a letter to his company’s
suppliers encouraging them to participate to in the Project. Funk wrote,
“It’s important to UNFI that the products we sell are non-GMO. The best
guarantee of this to us is for you to enroll in the Non-GMO Project.”
Whole Foods to Have Private-
Label Products Non-GMO Verified
Whole Foods Market had made a
non-GMO commitment in its private-label brands several years ago, says Joe
Dickson, quality standards coordinator. The problem was that there was
no standard to define “non-GMO.”
“We care deeply about the GMO
issue, but the lack of a uniform indus-
try standard made the work difficult,” Dickson says. “There are so
many variables and many ingredients that are very hard to track.”
Three years ago, Dickson heard about the Non-GMO Project and
its work to develop a non-GMO standard. Whole Foods decided to join
the effort. “It made sense to create an industry-wide standard,” he says.
“Everyone has one single point of reference for non-GMO claims.”
Even before enrolling its products in the non-GMO verification,
Whole Foods had been a strong supporter of the Non-GMO Project.
“The work has been courageous and visionary. An incredible amount
of work has been done with very limited resources,” Dickson says.
Need Teamwork and Collaboration
All Whole Foods private-label products, including the company’s
“365” and “365 Organic” products, will be Non-GMO Project verified.
The task of verifying these products is significant because Whole
Foods has at least 100 private-label manufacturers, and all will participate in the non-GMO verification, Dickson says.
Whole Foods started by putting its 365 Organic Tortilla Chips
through the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program as a
pilot project to assess the program’s feasibility. By November 2009,
Whole Foods began enrolling all its private-label products in the PVP.
Many of Whole Foods’ private-label manufacturers already have
non-GMO controls. “One big advantage to the Non-GMO Project is
that it respects non-GMO systems already in place,” Dickson says.