AUSTIN, Texas (March 6, 2001) Whole Foods Market (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 rules 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 its121 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 OOD-1598).

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™, 365 Everyday Value™ and Whole Kids™ 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.