Natural foods giant Whole Foods issued an action alert asking its customers to tell the U.S. Department of Agriculture they support coexistence between genetically-engineered (GE) and non-GE crops.

alfalfaXX-featured.jpgThe Austin, Texas-based company–which now has stores in 38 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, and the U.K–emailed the action alert to its listserv on Friday. The alert also appeared on the Whole Foods blog and several times on various company Twitter accounts–including the national account, which has over 1.8 million followers.

The call to action comes as the USDA is about to announce its decision on GE alfalfa, a crop that has been the subject of litigation since 2005. Proponents of GE alfalfa argue that the crop should be allowed without limitations, organic and non-GE alfalfa growers are fighting for regulation to prevent their crops from being contaminated. GE-contaminated alfalfa does not qualify for USDA Organic certification.

“Do you believe organic and non-GE farmers have a right to grow foods without fear of contamination from genetically engineered crops?” asks Whole Foods in the email alert. “Do you want the choice to buy organic and non-GE products? If so, please consider taking action immediately! Contact the USDA, the White House, and your Congressperson by Monday, January 24.”

“Our non-GE and organic farmers continue to be concerned with crop contamination and market rejection,” Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods and Margaret Wittenberg, global VP of quality standards and public affairs, wrote on the company’s blog. “Independent studies in the U.S. and in other countries on GE crops have documented a long list of reasons for concern, including evidence that these crops lead to herbicide-resistant super-weeds and require the use of more toxic herbicides.”

Robb and Wittenberg outlined Whole Foods’ position on the issue on the company’s blog, Whole Story. The company would like to see conditional deregulation include three points:

— The protection of seed purity for all farmers, including organic, so we maintain variety and avoid massive mono-culture;

— Compensation by the patent holder to the farmer for any losses related to the contamination of his crop; and

— Public oversight by the USDA rather than reliance on the biotechnology industry to voluntarily try to contain GE contamination, because the USDA has the authority to protect all US agriculture.

“The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well,” add Robb and Wittenberg. “True coexistence is a must.”
Whole Foods did not return a Food Safety News inquiry about the consumer response company’s action alert. 

  • Cary Fardal

    This is the same company that sells “organic” frozen vegetables from China!! Of course they’re corporate sell-outs. They really over charge for everything too, if you have organic, natural food store options, go somewhere else! Whole Foods is a joke! They should continue to push for complete regulation of GE-Alfalfa. There is no point to GE-ALfalfa, it offers no benefits. And there isn’t enough space to truly contain it and keep the GE-modified crops from contaminating a non-GE field. Our food system is screwed enough. Push the USDA to completely regulate GE-Alfalfa and STOP Monsanto from its continued monopolistic pursuits of our food system!

  • aaron

    Agreed, Cary. I avoid Whole Foods unless no other options for days are available for organic foods.
    Though I would add the only healthy option is complete obliteration of all g.e. crops and animals! Not coexistence which will ultimately lead to further contamination of the world, crops and thus animals and humans with Frankenstein genetically engineered distortions of the natural world.
    And g.e. crops have not only not been absolutely proven to be safe, they have already shown themselves to be unhealthy and unsafe, as well as polluting of their own volition.

  • Patrick

    If you read the post here:
    You will find that full-regulation (non-production – see #2 under the “Background on the GE alfafa Issue” section) is not an option the USDA would pursue. In other words, it is either coexistance or complete deregulation. Whole Foods is picking the lesser of the 2 evils.

  • I wish to continue to raise my crops organically. Please do not allow my rights to work hard, farm without chemicals & eat clean safe food be taken from me.
    Please be aware there is no turning back. There is no way to collect the contaminants once they ride the air current and cross pollinate throughout the united states.
    GE crops are a danger to the food system of the entire planet.

  • Jennifer

    I am completely sickened by this. Absolutely disgusting.

  • Goal joyan

    This gives new meaning to “life sucks and then you die”

  • Geraldine

    I am heart sick over what is happening to our genetic heritage of plants. Will the world become like the cartoons put out for kids but made only for adults to understand concerning mutant people and foods? It seems headed in that direction and with complete approval of our officials because of Scientists who are for whatever reason unethical or lacking common sense. This is a nightmare andmakes me think there are aliens among us from some evil planet that want to strip humanity of all their genetic heritage from plants so we can become more like them or we collapse so they can introduce their own kind to what is better for them. This so called technology is not beneficial for any existing life forms on this planet. This sounds out of this world ridiculous but so is this whole issue that should not be existing. If they are so worried about population growth and food supply why not put a limit on how many children someone can bear like China does. I would prefer that intrusiveness over the present and irreversible destruction of our food supply. At least the kids who are born would have a safe and normal way of eating.

  • kelly

    You will find that full-regulation (non-production – see #2 under the “Background on the GE alfafa Issue” section) is not an option the USDA would pursue. In other words, it is either coexistance or complete deregulation. Whole Foods is picking the lesser of the 2 evils.
    its like saying you have two opitions green or blue and
    getting upset with someone because they did not pick purple.
    two opitions 2 as in not 3 the usda was going to go after 2
    so to rally behind the lesser of the 2 is better than doing nothing.

  • It is not possible to keep a GE crop from contaminating neighboring fields. This would be devastating to organic farmers. If you are not familiar, please google about Monsanto and their Roundup resistant soybean. They sued farmers for patent infringement and put them out of business when seed blew to a neighboring farm. The movie Food Inc. has a great segment on this. Please do not support Whole Foods in this. Shop at Trader Joes.

  • Heather

    Shop at Trader Joes? Instead of Whole Foods? That makes no sense. Trader Joes has nowhere near the commitment to organics, if that’s what you’re looking for. They have no idea where most of their food comes from. They were buying DeCoster’s eggs — remember that vile egg “farm” that caused a massive egg recall in August?
    Whole Foods is one of the biggest, most powerful companies fighting for a commonsense policies for GE crop regulation.
    You have got to be kidding me!