Whole Foods Market, carrying thousands of certified products, which are free of genetically modified ingredients, announced its decision to implement its new practice on transparency. The upscale chain of healthy and natural foods will make it obligatory to label products containing genetically modified organisms in its American and Canadian stores by 2018. Zintro experts discuss how customers will react to this new initiative.
As professional chef instructor, Christine Seelye-King points out, Whole Foods is following industry trends and wants to stay out in front with this movement. “Shelf talkers, ribbon banners, end caps, and in-store signage are there to drive consumers to purchase not only the items being advertised, but other items in the same section. Bigger signage leads to more sales, and advertisers love to have new things to advertise,” she notes. “Other retailers will continue to respond to grassroots opinion and new product advertising will help spread the buzz words that consumers will ask for. It appears to me that companies fear that they will lose customers who see what is perceived to be an undesirable tag such as ‘GMO Enhanced!’ because they have started reading and paying attention to labels.” Furthermore, Seelye-King doesn’t believe that most customers will take the time to read the fine print or care about the contents even if they respond to bigger and brighter advertising. “Truth in ingredient labeling isn’t going to produce the negative sales figures we’ve been hearing about, unless of course there are other unwholesome things in the food they don’t want to disclose. So why should the food producers worry about labeling their GMO products,” she adds. “Get the advertisers to put a nice sleek spin on it and turn it from ‘flaw’ into ‘feature’. Provide the information for those who want and need to know, and then manufacturers and retailers like Whole Foods can run the ads that represent labeling standards as a service to the public good. And it is a public service, because having the extra labeling and advertising will introduce the concept of reading labels to a whole new generation of shoppers.”
According to agricultural consultant, Willem Pretorius, most of the strong reactions about the use of Genetically Modified (GM) crops made through the social media, haven’t taken into consideration the proper substantiated scientific facts. “The problems created by the use of GM food have to do with a knock on effect of some very important biological systems in nature where the balances within these systems are severely disrupted,” he explains. “This disruption takes place not so much by the GM crop itself but by the allowable substance use created by the genetic modification and in this instance ‘Glyphosate’ also known as Round Up a very potent herbicide.” Moreover, Pretorius relates the present problems of soil erosion, reduced nutritional food value, a massive increase in plant diseases and animal reproductive failure, primarily to the deterioration and collapse of the soil health system. “The growing of GM crops especially with both the Bt and Round Up ready genes in place, interferes in several ways with the natural soil and other ecosystems. These are two common traits of GM crops where the Bt gene produces an insecticidal substance, controlling a wide range of insects and the Round Up ready gene allows for the spraying of weeds with Glyphosate, without killing the GM crop,” he adds. “With the list of problems compounding, it is safe to say that all is not well with present day modern crop and animal production models. If all these problems relating to the use of GM crops are already evident is it not your right to be informed of this on the label?”
By Idil Kan
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