Whole Foods Market Caves to Monsanto

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.)


I started to buy my fruits and veggies from local farmers to support the true organic concept.... to get into one of these co-ops is relative easy but some times you may encounter a waiting list.


the article states that WFM was caving,but you did not specify OGV.?
pls clarify..thx

Actually aspartame although "artificial" is now being hidden in the generic vague "natural flavors" ingredient in some products.

I'm disappointed in Whole Foods.

Plenty of spin in this article. While I believe there are issues you can have with any of the aforementioned businesses..they did not fold to monsanto..the FDA gave no choice. Read up on it.And anyone championing New Seasons..they buy their food from UNFI as well(the same with almost every coop..every traditional store organic section..etc..)..and beyond the aisles of conventional crap New Seasons carry they are majority owned by Pacific foods..a major user of GE soybeans. NS has done well selling you want you want to hear, but it's a line of crap. WF is at least honest about it's capitalist intent. The enemy you know...

I am Boycotting genetic-engineered food and request that everyone really informs themselves about the "danger" of eating such food !!! ---> please read yourself ----> http://www.responsibletechnology.org/
~~~ Dangerous Toxins From Genetically Modified Plants Found in Women and Fetuses ~~~
**** Links to allergies, auto-immune disease, and other disorders **** WATCH: http://vimeo.com/23976975 NO GMO !!!
There’s already plenty of evidence that the Bt-toxin produced in GM corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses.

I wrote to them regarding this article. This is the reply.
On Thursday, January 27th, the USDA announced a policy that supports the
interests of Monsanto and big biotech and deals a major blow to organic
farming. They decided to “deregulate” genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa,
meaning to allow its unrestricted use. In the months leading up to this
decision, a coalition of us has been working ceaselessly to fight for any
and all alternatives. I’ve personally spent days, nights, weekends and
vacations as we worked right though the holidays along with our colleagues
to try to prevent this chemical giant from steamrolling over farmers,
consumers and organic foods supporters. So, it is particularly sad for me
to report to you that in this latest round, which is surely just one
chapter, they won and we lost.

Making matters worse, on the day of the decision, the Organic Consumers
Association distributed an inaccurate, irresponsible and frankly appalling
letter that attempted to pin the blame for the USDA’s decision squarely on
Stonyfield, Organic Valley and Whole Foods. OCA’s letter is blatantly
untrue and dangerously misleading, but also deeply divisive at a time when
we all need to be focused on immediate actions necessary to stop this new
policy from going into effect.

Let me first state the obvious – leaving aside the fact that USDA’s own
organic standards do not allow the use of genetically engineered crops,
Stonyfield is absolutely and utterly opposed to the deregulation of GE
crops. We believe that these crops are resulting in significantly higher
uses of toxic herbicides and water, creating a new generation of costly
“super” weeds; pose severe and irreversible threats to biodiversity and
seed stocks; do not live up to the superior yield claims of their patent
holders; and are unaffordable for small family farmers in the US and around
the world. We believe that organic farming methods are proving through
objective, scientific validation to offer far better solutions. We also
believe that unrestricted deregulation of GE crops unfairly limits farmer
and consumer choice.

Thursday’s decision and the long and hard fought battle leading up to it
began in 2005 when the USDA deregulated GE alfalfa for the first time.
Stonyfield actively supported the organic community’s challenge to the
deregulation and eventually the case went all the way to the Supreme Court.
In 2007, the Court ruled there could be no deregulation without the USDA
making a full assessment of GE alfalfa’s environmental impact and the court
placed an injunction on planting of GE alfalfa.

Since then, Monsanto and big biotech have spent tens of millions lobbying
in Washington and funding studies that support the use of GE alfalfa. These
biotech giants have terrifyingly deep pockets. But despite their efforts,
organic advocates were able to persuade the USDA that organic interests
must also be considered. And so, for the first time, the USDA in recent
months convened stakeholder groups of pro- and anti-biotech organizations
including farm groups, manufacturers, industry associations and non-profits
to try to reach a consensus on GE alfalfa. This was essentially an attempt
to convene meetings between the Davids and Goliaths. Given the overwhelming
firepower on the other side, and a decade’s worth of biotech-funded
“science”, it was a bold and worthy attempt. Stonyfield, Whole Foods,
Organic Valley, and the Organic Trade Association along with many other
organic advocates including the Non-GMO Project, Organic Farming Research
Foundation, National Cooperative Grocers Association, National Organic
Coalition, Beyond Pesticides, and the Center for Food Safety brought
forward our arguments for a complete ban on GE alfalfa.

From the outset of these stakeholder discussions, it was clear that GE
alfalfa had overwhelming political, legal, financial and regulatory support
and thus the odds were severely stacked against any possibility of
preventing some level of approval, just as has been the case with GE
cotton, soy and corn. Keep in mind that, according to Food and Water Watch,
biotech has spent more than half a billion dollars ($547 million) lobbying
Congress since 1999. Their lobby expenditures more than doubled during that
time. In 2009 alone they spent $71 million. Last year they had more than
100 lobbying firms working for them, as well as their own in-house

In December, to no one’s surprise, the USDA took a complete ban of GE
alfalfa off the table as an option, leaving only two choices: complete
deregulation or deregulation with some safeguards to protect organic
farmers, which they called “co-existence.” The choice we were faced with
was to walk away and wait for the legal battle in the courts or stay at the
table and fight for safeguards that would attempt to protect organic
farmers and consumer choice, still maintaining the option for legal battle
later. A smaller coalition of organic interests participated in the
meetings with the clear caveat that any decision to deregulate GE alfalfa
must include restrictions that protect organic farmers and consumers’
choice. When faced with the overwhelming reality that GE alfalfa would be
released despite our best efforts, we believed fighting for some safeguards
to protect organic consumers and organic farmers was the best option.

We specifically advocated that any regulatory approval must ensure: (a)
protection of seed purity – for organic farmers’ use, and as insurance in
case something “crops” up that causes a later reconsideration of the use of
biotechnology; (b) organic farmers whose crops become contaminated by GE
alfalfa must be compensated by the patent holders for their losses due to
losing their organic certification; and (c) the USDA must oversee all
testing and monitoring of GE crops to ensure compliance as part of its role
in protecting all US agriculture. Needless to say, the biotech coalition
was firmly opposed to all three caveats, but we remained united and fought
hard for them.

Not once did Stonyfield consider buying what Monsanto was selling – nor
will we ever. We have never wavered from our position in defending organic
and opposing GE crops. Back in the 1990’s we went head to head with
Monsanto over synthetic growth hormones and we were the first US dairy to
pay farmers not to use rBGH. We have been fighting them ever since, and
will continue to do so. In the days since this very sad decision, we have
convened multiple times with our fellow organic advocates and have already
begun to plan and invest in our next wave of legal, lobbying and
educational efforts.

The fact remains that we cannot and will never stop fighting this battle.
The problem with the unrestricted deregulating of GE crops is that the
dangers of contamination are permanent and irreversible. Whereas Congress
has enacted other legislation to correct and reverse past transgressions,
for instance the Clean Air Act and clean water legislation, a “clean crop
act” would never be able to undo the damage and losses caused by GE crops.
Therefore, the time to fight for these restrictions is now.

We will continue to fight to protect the organic farmers who grow healthy
food and the consumers who have every right to choose organic. We will
continue to push for unbiased scientific findings about the harmful effects
of GE crops. And we will work hard to give our consumers the assurances
they need that organic remains free of anything genetically engineered. The
battle will now move from the government agencies back to the courts, but
we also need new and stronger legislation that addresses toxic herbicides,
and threats to biodiversity, seed protection and other ecological costs.

But I need to take a moment to address the misguided and fallacious OCA
attack on Stonyfield, Whole Foods and Organic Valley. Their missive has
generated many questions in the last couple of days. I have read them with
a heavy heart. I have no idea about their motivations. I have never met
Ronnie Cummins and he certainly has never asked me for my views on these
issues. But simply put, instead of fighting with each other, we need to
fight Monsanto and the forces that are causing the voices of hundreds of
thousands of Americans who support organic to be silenced. All of us who
are opposed to the USDA decision to deregulate GE alfalfa must speak with
one voice. Anything less keeps us divided and distracted. I hope that
readers of the OCA communications will convey your disappointment with
their tactics. These misleading actions do nothing to advance our cause.

I hope that you will continue to be passionate about this incredibly
important issue facing the organic industry and that you will join us in
the fight in any way you can. Stay tuned as we prepare the next assault.


Gary Hirshberg
Stonyfield Farm President and CE-YO

May I have the address you wrote that got this reply? I am interested in not only telling them "THANK YOU!" but seeing how I can help.

The way I join in the fight, is what I buy and how I eat. If you can't lobby, and get involved, then at least watch what you buy, vote with your feet. When WFM showed up on the scene, I saw what they sold. They showed up about when the law was changed regarding what was deemed "organic". They sold "conventional" from the beginning as I remember shopping in Orlando. I could see where that was going from the start. So, how about you Americans learning how to grow some decent soil in your backyard. How about a few chickens. They are so esy to care for. Our ancestors always had chickens, and at least a small garden with rich soil grown with manure, leaves and compost. Their lives were centered around food then, not around large corporations producing food for us. Everybody sick now, everywhere I go, no matter what kind of house they live in. What, isn't this famine? Look at those huge swollen guts I see everywhere, reminds me of certain commercials on TV asking for donations for dying children in third world countries. Stop the cortisone shots from the doc. Get a book on backyard organic soil and start there, don't bother planting anything until you have soil. Sorry Stoneyfield, the assault is not in the courts but in the backyard. That is where we all messed up.