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Whole Foods to label all genetically modified products by 2018

Whole Foods to label all genetically modified products by 2018
A Whole Foods store in Pasadena. The company has pledged to label all genetically modified organisms, or GMO products, within five years. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Whole Foods Market, the supermarket chain known for its organic inventory, said Friday that it will aim for “full GMO transparency” within five years.

By 2018, the Austin, Texas, chain plans to slap labels on all products in its U.S. and Canadian stores that qualify as GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.

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The business has more than 300 emporiums, including seven United Kingdom stores that already require GMO labeling. Whole Foods says it's the first national grocery chain to set such a deadline.

Whole Foods carries 3,300 products from 250 brands that it says have been verified as being GMO-free. Many items on its shelves also carry credentials covering animal welfare, eco-friendliness and sourcing origins.

"The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and for consumers to choose non-GMO products," said Walter Robb, co-chief executive of the company, in a statement.

In November, California voters struck down Proposition 37, which would have required the state to mandate labeling on certain produce and processed foods with altered DNA. Whole Foods endorsed the ballot measure.

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