By The PRW Staff on January 28, 2011

WholeFoodsMarketAfter 12 years of battling to stop Monsanto's genetically-engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation's organic farmland, the biggest retailers of "natural" and "organic" foods in the U.S., including Whole Foods Market (WFM), Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm, have agreed to stop opposing mass commercialization of GE crops, like Monsanto's controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa.

In exchange for dropping their opposition, WFM has asked for "compensation" to be paid to organic farmers for "any losses related to the contamination of his crop." Under current laws, Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs) are not subject to any pre-market safety testing or labeling. WFM is abandoning its fight with biotech companies in part because two thirds of the products they sell are not certified organic anyway, but are really conventional, chemical-intensive and foods that may contain GMOs and that they market as "natural" despite this. Most consumers don't know the difference between "natural" and "certified organic" products. "Natural" products can come from crops and animals fed nutrients containing GMOs. "Certified Organic" products are GMO-free. WFM and their main distributor, United Natural Foods, maximize profits by selling products labeled "natural" at premium organic prices.  (A typographical error in the second sentence of this story was subsequently corrected.  We regret this minor error.)

Comments

Hey Marlies. Please look at the history of Whole Foods market-entry practices in regards to local, established natural food stores and co-ops to see that they are far from a corporation with integrity. Your knowledge of their practices should grow from there. Food co-ops are stores that really care about the community they serve.

This email, it must be said, does not address any of the key assertions of the article and subsequent conversation.

Collusion is an accusation that does not depend upon actual business ties. Furthermore, this sort of agreement need not be implicit. Simple cooperation between supposedly rival companies constitutes collusion. While the claim is not supported by physical evidence, it most certainly is not cleared up with an equally unsupported claim of "no business ties". Don't take WMF at their word, please.

Through the continued sale of Organic Valley and Stoneyfield 'Farm' products, WFM takes on the decision to give up the fight against Monsanto. Bowing to the power of Monsanto is tantamount to a betrayal of the image being sold to the consumers of WFM. This image of clean and guilt-free consumerism is far more important to WFM than any of their products. Much like Walmart's 'Always low prices' false-image, WFM understands that image is everything while actual goods, services and prices come second to the bottom line. I applaud any look behind the mask of image and this article does so to great effect.

The email also does not address the claim that 2/3 of its products are market as 'Natural' and further more, refuses to disprove that WFM draws no clear line for its customers between the 'Natural' and 'organic' label. This is tantamount to bait and switch. "Here's all these expensive organic products you can't afford, but hey, we get it, buy 'Natural' and still feel good about your choices." Everybody leaves happy not knowing the long-term effects of GE.

I also wrote Whole foods in response to this article and they sent me the same email as the previous post. As well as a link to a blog post on their website, in response to the rumors that have been spreading.

http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2012/02/gmo-monsanto-buyout-rumors-untrue/

I KNEW they were up to SOMETHING....they charge only TWICE as much for everything!!!

Whole Foods should use their full weight to fight GMO's as hard-line as possible, anything less feels like collusion whether traceable or not. Buying local from small producers is the way to go. Join a CSA or start a farmer's market in your area, if there isn't one already.

I know Whole Foods is very conveniently located for many and most Americans are still use to the big grocery store model. However, they are virulently anti-union and prevent smaller producers from entering or expanding their share of the market. So support smaller producers and they will eventually become more prevalent and convenient. Support workers' rights!

I am a Forager for Whole Foods. This means that I actively search for local and regional vendors to bring them in as vendors into the store. I don't see this as 'preventing smaller producers from entering or expanding their share of the market.' It seems more like support to me.

The truth is that WFM is not only anti-union but was started to put all the food co-ops out of existence. It was part of my 'New Team Member Orientation' so it is pretty much known that this is a very real part of WFM's corporate history. John Mackey hated hippie culture and wanted to co-opt the co-ops. Take it from someone who had to learn it first-hand back in the late 80s.

I'm anti-union myself but strongly support local and CSA's. Unios really don't and shouldn't play into this argument.

We should all be pro-union. Unions are the way for Americans to win back better paying, fair living wages. And that is what will stimulate the economy. Unless of course you are all for everyone working for minimum wages! Which is what the right to work movement is really about. The right to work for less and less!

Germany has strong unions, high wages, a healthy manufacturing sector, free education, universal healthcare. Yes it can be done.

A new and better model is Worker Owned Cooperative Corporations. Check out Mondragon.

Cuba thanks to 50 years of obscene embargo has fully organic agriculture. We have a lot to learn from them. Maybe they could supply us with Organic produce!

Inequality and the super rich ruling class and their bought and paid for politicians is the only thing standing in the way. And I believe that a lot of these selfish greedy bastards shop at Whole Foods.

Your pro-union rant is cute, but a straw man argument. If unions were the only thing standing between the average worker and minimum wage, every non-union worker would be making minimum wage. Of course, the minimum wage has proven to increase unemployment rates amongst younger workers and minority workers, so you've got that going for you. Which is nice.

Germany also has perhaps the most skilled workforce in the world, has chopped their corporate tax rates and boasts a less-than-impressive 25% unionization rate.

If you want cooperative corporations, have your labor unions start investing in their own operations. The rest of us merit-loving capitalists will be happy to compete with your entitled, selfish adult infantiles.

Perhaps you should move to Cuba if organic food is your desire. Leave the productive work to the rest of us.

And George Soros says hi, and thanks for the support.

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