A Whole Foods Market executive reiterated the chain’s position Tuesday that it will not stock any products after 2018 that are not labeled as either containing or not containing genetically-modified organisms.

Speaking at the 2014 Executive Forum sponsored by Portland State University, Bruce Silverman, VP, Northern Pacific Region, for the Austin, Texas-based company, said Whole Foods wants to let consumers have the choice of what to buy.

“We’re not for or against GMO’s, as long as the customer is able to make its own choice,” he said. “Just as with organic standards, GMO is an issue where we want the public to have the opportunity to make a choice. We don’t want to make the decision on what’s better or healthier. Let the consumer do that.”


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As for the pros and cons of labeling products that contain GMO’s, Silverman said, “Rather than figuring out how to stop GMO labeling from happening, people should realize it’s already happening and they should work on developing labeling standards.

“What we want our vendors to do is label their products. We don’t want to eliminate GMO’s, but the vendors must label their products as to whether or not they contain GMO’s.”

Speaking at the same session, Joe Gilliam, president of the Northwest Grocery Association, said Whole Foods’ approach “to let the manufacturers decide to comply or not sell their products through Whole Foods is reasonable. But there must be a federal standard on what a non-GMO is.”

Asked if Whole Foods believes products with GMO’s are better than those without GMO’s, Silverman said it’s up to the FDA “to do the vetting. As for whether GMO’s are good or bad, we never make that judgment.”

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