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Whole Foods Ramps Up Prop. 37 Support

Company Co-CEO Walter Robb touts Proposition 37, which would require the labeling of genetically engineered food.

With polls showing dwindling support for Proposition 37 just days before the Nov. 6 election, Whole Foods Market is ramping up its support for the ballot measure, which seeks to require food manufacturers to label genetically modified food (or GMOs - genetically modified organisms).

Whole Foods Market Co-CEO Walter Robb appeared Thursday at the Mill Valley Whole Foods, the site of the grocery store he started in 1992 before working his way up the Whole Foods hierarchy, to show support for Prop. 37. 

Whole Foods officials formally announced the company's support for Prop. 37 in September. But as the election approaches, additional signage is going up at its stores and employees throughout the state have been trained on GMOs and the ballot measure, Robb said.

Robb told Patch that it’s unclear if Prop. 37’s passage would create a financial burden for Whole Foods, but nevertheless he said the company is “enthusiastically” supporting it because the company's major priorities include “transparency” and “customers’ right to know.”

That issue - the alleged cost of labeling foods containing genetically altered ingredients and manufacturers passing on those costs to consumers - has been a central argument by 37's opponents. Food giants like Monsanto, DuPoint, PepsiCo, General Mills and Kellogg have raised $44 million for No on Prop. 37 to pay for TV advertising making that case, while the Yes on 37 campaign has raised roughly $7 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Despite the uphill fundraising battle, Whole Foods has been working in partnership with the Yes on 37 campaign and helped start the Non GMO Project, Robb said.

He said Whole Foods carries 5,000 products that are verified by the Non-GMO Project and encourages other food makers to get verified. The USDA National Organic Standards also prohibit the use of GMOs, Robb said, meaning the company’s 365 Everyday Value organic products and other organic items are also GMO free. For Non-GMO month in October, Whole Foods had a three-day sale on Non-GMO Project verified items.

Prop. 37 will require manufacturers to spend some cash to change their labels, but Robb argued they won’t have to make the modification until 2014, which should provide plenty of time to adjust and may come at a time when they would already update labels.

Some have questioned the claim of increased costs. An analysis by the LA Times' opinion staff concluded that the labeling wouldn’t result in significant increases in food costs. “After all, food companies regularly change their labels in one way or another," the Times said. 

Whole Foods has put the bulk of its Yes on 37 efforts into social media and also has some radio ads that will become more prevalent in the days before the election.

To date, it hasn't been enough to sway public opinion. A recent poll by the California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University School of Public Policy revealed 39.1 percent of likely California voters support the Prop. 37, according to the LA Times. The poll also found that 50.5 percent oppose the labeling and 10.5 percent are undecided. 

GMOs are created by gene splicing techniques. Opponents argue it creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes. GMO labeling is mandatory is almost 50 countries in the world.

According to the nonprofit Non GMO Project, “high-risk crops” that are .

Prop. 37 will create a national standard for Non-GMO products, said Robb.

Are you in favor of Prop. 37? Tell us why or why not in the comments.

Starlight November 06, 2012 at 12:51 AM
No - this is not about, or by, trial lawyers!! This is about protecting YOU, and those you love, from dangerous food!! So that YOU at least know what is in the food you choose to eat. More than 60 other countries have this same law - so that their citizens can choose. That's what it's about, in a nutshell. There's so much to learn here - I hope you will educate yourself much more about how totally un-natural GMO's are.
Saltwater November 06, 2012 at 02:19 AM
@Stralight- You are not answering my question. And yes, if this is about trial lawyers feathering their nest I deserve to know. Maybe you don't care, but I do. You are all missing the point. As soon as those labels appear, you will be seeing TV ads asking if "you or your family" have ever ingested the following genetically enhanced products, and do you have any of the following signs and symptoms of a plethora of conditions (psychosomatic especially). The floodgates will once again open for the attorney's to sue most, if not every company on the planet involved in food production, food handling, and food distribution. The bar association is rooting the hardest for this absurd proposition. Besides, this proposition WILL increase the cost of packaging for food products, the cost of which will be transferred to the consumer, thereby increasing the price of all foods with these labels. The food industry is one of the most closely monitored industries, especially in the USA. This proposition makes an issue of a "non issue".
PeaceOfCake November 06, 2012 at 07:24 PM
"Increase the cost of packaging" - that's just nonsense! And.. who cares if people sue Monsanto and Dow and Dupont.. I sure don't. They have it coming for trying to buy there way into and own our food system without telling us. "the food industry is.. closely monitored.. especially in the USA"... HA! That's a joke. Monitored by who? The FDA? The entire government is infiltrated with previous Monsanto people. The FDA and the USDA are not doing the job of protecting Americans, they are protecting big business and profits over the health of Americans.
PeaceOfCake November 06, 2012 at 07:28 PM
No, this will not shove any business out of CA. WA is right behind you and so are many other states. This is exactly like rBHT and pink slime. They think we are better off if we just don't know what's in our food. Well, it all adds up. The chemicals and the hormones and the antibiotics and the BROKEN SYSTEM that is out food supply. This is just the first step - a baby step to get to the real issue of fixing our broken system that is making us sick.
JeffV November 09, 2012 at 02:54 AM
iPhone App NxtNutrio It detects GMO’s in foods, notifying you when food is Non-GMO via the Non-GMO project seal. NxtNutrio also alerts consumers when an ingredient “May be a GMO.” - check it out www.nxtnutrio.com

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