Wake Up and Smell the GMO

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By: Shannon Murphy

As I write this, it’s Election Day Eve and in light of California’s Proposition 37 on the ballot, Vivien Veil has done an amazing job of posting several articles to educate her fans.  If the proposition passes, it will require companies to disclose GMO containing products on labels.  The proposition will make California the first state to mandate identification of genetically modified food.  This means consumers will be able to easily identify GMO food without having to scrutinize the ingredient list.  People will STILL find these products on the shelf, and they will have a choice whether or not they want to buy it.

Californians: Don’t forget to vote “YES” on November 6th.

After reading the article posted on Vivien Veil, Top 10 Ways to Avoid Genetically Modified Foods,” I realized that I had not been 100% clear on the battle against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).  

This is a huge issue for me because I am the one that does all of the grocery shopping for my family.

It weighs a heavy burden on me to know that I have to look for key words in the list of ingredients on packages.  Our children depend on their parents, caregivers, and school districts to make good choices for them, and they only know what we teach them by example.  I have done a pretty good job avoiding foods that contain high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils, but admit they have slipped past me when I assumed there is no way the product would have it.

It is safer to always buy organic, but it may not always be available or affordable for consumers.  I should also share that there is a belief out there that genetically modified food is beneficial to the population, because GM foods may provide greater resistance to pests and viruses, as well as a longer shelf life.  Whether or not there is enough scientific evidence out there to prove that GMOs are in fact detrimental to our health, I am not willing to use my family as an experiment.  We all have the freedom to choose what we buy, so why wouldn’t we want to make an educated choice?

I had a major awakening after going through my pantry with the guidance of Vivien Veil herself.  (see her article “Do You Really Know What’s in Your Food?“)  I realized I was seriously unaware of the modified foods I was feeding my family.  Afterwards, I went to the grocery store as a newly educated mom on a mission to find healthy replacements for the staples I always have in my pantry and refrigerator.  I should also note that I am more limited with my choices since I live on a military base overseas.  Although we are able to buy many of the brands we are used to back in the states, I am not always able to find an organic alternative.  That’s when it’s most important to read the label and make a good choice based on what you see.

I hope the choices I made will motivate others to look for different, healthier options to serve their family.  Please keep in mind that many of the large company brands you are buying are the same ones that are heavily fighting Proposition 37 in California because they do not want to label their products with the negative phrase, “contains genetically modified organisms.”

My Attempt at Buying Non-GMO

Here are some of the items I am immediately switching for my family.  The item on the left is what I purchased based on my new knowledge.  The item on the right is what was already in my home and was feeding my family.  I am crossing my fingers that the taste difference will be minimal, since my 3-year-old is ridiculously finicky.  I took my children to the grocery store with me and pointed out their usual favorite foods and talked to them about how they have bad sugar and ingredients that can make us sick.  They seemed pretty receptive, so hopefully they will re-train their taste buds quickly!

Disclaimer: I am very new at reading ingredients and identifying GM ingredients.  Please continue to do your own research so you can become an educated consumer.

Applesauce – I found high fructose corn syrup in my “Mott’s.” It didn’t even occur to me to look at the ingredients when buying something as simple as applesauce. I assumed only apples, duh! I couldn’t find an organic option, but “Tree Top” did not have high fructose corn syrup. Yes, I know you can puree your own apples, but it’s not realistic to puree when you are packing a school lunch at 10 PM the night before school.

Whole Grain Bread – “Ezekiel 4:9” is found in the frozen bread section. It’s organic, has lots of protein, and tastes great. Just stick it in your toaster and it’s ready to eat. I found high fructose corn syrup in my usual brand. Check your brand!

I found modified corn starch in “Cheerios.” So, I bought “Cascadian Farm Organic Honey Nut O’s.” They are delicious. Sadly, both of these companies oppose Proposition 37. I don’t understand why “Cascadian Farm” does, since it’s an organic company. You can visit this link for a longer list of companies that are “against” and “for” Proposition 37.

Gummy Fruit Snacks – My kids adore fruit flavored gummy snacks, especially when their favorite characters are plastered on the box. The Kellogg’s brand fruit flavored fruit snacks contain modified corn starch and corn syrup. Kellogg’s is also opposing Proposition 37. Can Disney please talk to “Annie’s Homegrown” and put Lightening McQueen on their box instead?

Ice Cream – Every home is in need of ice cream, right? “Dreyer’s” has modified corn starch and high fructose corn syrup. It also uses milk from cows injected with rBGH (visit www.organicconsumers.org for a list of companies that are completely rBGH and rBST-free processors.) Although “Ben & Jerry’s” listed corn syrup, I bought it because it is rBGH-free. Sometimes you have to pick the lesser of two evils when you crave ice cream. This Greek Frozen Yogurt is delicious.

Yogurt – This small size is great for putting in kids’ lunches. I was buying “Yoplait Trix” because it did not have high fructose corn syrup. Then I found corn starch in the ingredient list. So, I bought the organic “Stoneyfield” brand instead.

Ketchup – “Hunt’s” proudly identifies that their product is 100% natural and does not contain high fructose corn syrup. “Heinz” has high fructose corn syrup in its ingredients list. However, “Heinz” also sells organic ketchup. Sadly, both of these companies are owned by Monsanto, one of the biggest donors in anti-Proposition 37 contributions. I will continue to search for another ketchup brand because I do not want to support Monsanto. (If you want to check out a list of brand names owned by Monsanto, read the article on Vivien Veil “What are GMOs and Why Label Them?”)

Pancake Mix – I always bought “Aunt Jemima’s” Whole Wheat Blend. Sounds healthy, right? Vivien Veil’s analysis of the ingredients is enough to scare anyone away from this package. Guess what? “Aunt Jemima” is owned by Monsanto. Luckily, I found “Nature’s Path” Organic Multigrain Pancake Mix with flax! Lots of sneaky protein to trick your kids.

Coffee Creamer – The blue bottle contains partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil, cellulose gum, mono-and diglycerides, and carrageenan. What does “Nestle’s Natural Bliss” list of ingredients say? Nonfat milk, heavy cream, and sugar. They both have the same number of calories and total fat. I’ll take the one whose ingredients I can read and recognize, thank you! It’s interesting that they are made from the same company though…

The Challenge

If I have to go back to cooking as they did on the TV show, Little House on the Prairie, well then, I am ready for the challenge!  After all, I just bought a great electric stand mixer that’s ready to be put to work.  I’m a busy stay-at-home mom, but if I have to take a short-cut every now and then, I am not going to beat myself up over it.  My personal goal is to try to avoid GM foods at least 75% of the time.  If I can do more, I’ll give myself a sticker.

We need to retrain ourselves when it comes to food.  Out of convenience, we go through the drive thru at fast food restaurants.  We buy food items that are prepackaged, microwaveable, and ready to go, in an attempt to save time and effort.  What we really need to do is to try cooking from scratch as often as we can.  You don’t need to cook from scratch every day of the week.  Cook ahead and freeze your food when you can so all you need to do is reheat it on a busy night.

People have long work days, children to help with homework, sports, etc.  But if we can make an effort to cook from scratch at least 50% of the time (and strive to increase it gradually,) I’m positive you will notice a difference in your health and the health of your family.  You don’t cook?  Find someone who does!  Pitch in for the cost of the ingredients and offer a service trade: he/she cooks meals you can take home and freeze and in return you can mow their lawn, babysit, clean their house, paint a room, organize their closet, etc.  I will gladly bake someone a banana bread loaf from scratch if you want to come scrub my toilets!

If this all sounds overwhelming for you, don’t worry.  Just start with a few changes!  Anything is better than nothing.  Do it for yourself, your significant other, and most importantly, for your children.

Why a Scientist Will Vote Yes on Prop 37

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This is me, Darya

By: Darya Pino, Ph.D

To be honest, I’m a little surprised I even need to write this. In a national survey, over 90 percent of American voters favored labeling genetically modified (GMO) foods. Labels for GMOs are already required in the European Union, Japan, Australia and dozens of other nations. In direct expenses, adding a label costs next to nothing for both companies and consumers.

I was a bit annoyed when I started seeing ads calling Prop 37 unnecessarily complicated and poorly written, but I didn’t think TV ads could close such a huge gap. Before the television blitzkrieg by the anti-Prop 37 contingent, it looked poised to win in California by a landslide, and I figured the lead was large enough to hold.

However, anti-Prop 37 contributions have totaled over $41 million, with the biggest donors being Monsanto, Dupont, Pepsico and other giant food producers. (In comparison, the pro-Prop 37 contributions total just over $6 million — a little less than Monsanto contributed alone). As a result the most recent polls show Prop 37 is in a dead heat, and we are in danger of losing this opportunity to add transparency to our food system.

Legal Language

Despite what negative television ads have claimed, the proposition is neither complex nor poorly written (you can read it for yourself here). It’s fairly straight forward, in fact. Prop 37 states that any raw food commodity that has been genetically manipulated must have a clear label stating such. Any processed food that knowingly contains GMO ingredients must also have a label.

Prop 37 does not require labeling for specific ingredients, meaning that if a product contains both genetically modified corn and soy (as most processed foods do) the ingredient list will still just say “corn” and “soy.” However, somewhere on the package it must say that the food contains genetically modified ingredients.

Restaurant food is excluded, so you could still enjoy your genetically modified Big Mac in blissful ignorance. Animal products that are fed genetically modified foods (most industrial meat production relies on GMOs for feed) do not need to be labeled. Alcohol is also exempt. Organic certification already prohibits the use of genetic modification, so organic foods will not be affected.

The only additional provision, which I think makes sense, is that GMO foods and those containing GMO ingredients cannot use the word “natural” or anything similar (e.g. “naturally made”) on their labels.

Costs

Food companies add and remove food labels all the time — imagine how quickly they’d change the label if they learned processed foods protect against heart disease. However, major food producers like Monsanto, Kraft, and General Mills anticipate people avoiding GMO foods if they are labeled, so they see this proposition as a threat to their profits.

Prop 37 will cost consumers next to nothing, unless you choose to buy non-GMO food that happens to be more expensive. While anti-Prop 37 ads claim the cost to consumers will be $400 annually, that is based on a study (funded by the No on 37 camp) that assumes they will have to switch to non-GMO foods and charge more for them. This is a strange assumption that does not reflect the language of Prop 37, which does not ban GMO foods.

Some have argued that the more likely outcome is that they will start putting “May contain genetically engineered ingredients” on everything (over 80 percent of processed foods are currently made with GMOs) and hope we learn to ignore it, similar to what happened with Prop 65. This scenario would negate the costs projected by their study. Another study (with equally dubious funding) found that there is unlikely to be any additional costs to consumers. Importantly, labeling GMOs did not increase the cost of food in other nations.

Safety Concerns

So what’s all the fuss about? Are GMOs dangerous for us to eat or not? This is not particularly easy to answer because the term “genetic engineering” is incredibly broad. Just as cancer is not one disease, genetic engineering is not one kind of biological change. The safety of each manipulation must be determined on a case-by-case basis, and testing should be rigorous and exhaustive to detect all potential problems, side effects and unintended consequences.

As anyone who has worked extensively with genetically modified animals can tell you (I did for years), the effects of a single gene deletion or insertion are often very surprising and can be quite subtle. Sometimes nothing happens, sometimes crazy things happen, and sometimes you can’t tell what happened until you let the animal’s life run its course and study it extensively. That isn’t to say we aren’t able to have a solid understanding of some genetic manipulations, but it is not a simple science.

It gets even more tricky when you’re talking about releasing GMOs into the environment. It’s very difficult to contain genetic material in an ecosystem. It tends to spread, and ecological balance can be very fragile. This is why you are not allowed to bring fruit with you on international flights. Even native, non-genetically altered species can disrupt an ecosystem, and the same concerns apply to new or altered species created in a laboratory.

I’m not making the case that GMOs are somehow inherently unhealthy or bad for the environment. Indeed, in some cases the potential benefit of GMO crops may justify their prudent use. My point is that as a culture we should understand that genetic manipulation is a messy science that requires thoughtful consideration and rigorous oversight. We should not take this subject lightly.

What’s at Stake

Big Food has always fought tooth and nail against any kind of labeling regulations, but are quick to seek approval of health claims to put on the front of food packaging whenever possible. It’s obvious why. For food manufacturers labels are about marketing, not about health. Positive labels sell more food, while negative labels discourage sales.

Our current food system is shrouded heavily in secrecy, and this is intentional. Food companies rightfully fear that if we know more about what is in our food and how it was produced, we might start asking more questions and demanding better. Currently corn, soy beans, cotton, sugar beets, canola, alfalfa, Hawaiian papaya, zucchini and yellow crookedneck squash are genetically modified. Billions of dollars have been invested in this technology and the big food companies would not be happy if some of us decided to stop eating these foods.

What this really comes down to is transparency. Honest businesses with nothing to hide only win when more transparency is available. This is largely why organic food is such a big supporter of Prop 37 — the organic certification system is incredibly rigorous and these companies have already invested in the transparency of their businesses.

Consumers also win with more transparency because it enables them to make better informed decisions. If we believe certain GMOs are safe to eat, we can eat them. If some of us are more skeptical of one kind or another, we can skip them. Even Big Food benefits in the long run with more transparency, because it creates more confidence in their products as they are proven safe.

Prop 37 does not make any judgement on GMO foods. It does not ban them and it does not regulate their use. It simply requires food companies to indicate on their label if GMOs are present, so consumers can know with confidence what they are buying and eating. If you think this small act of tranparency is reasonable, you should support Prop 37 and vote yes if you live in California.

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Darya Pino is a Ph.D trained scientist, San Francisco foodie and advocate of local, seasonal foods.  She received her Ph.D in neuroscience from UCSF and her bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley. Her website is here.

Whole Foods Caught Selling GM foods

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By: Mike Adams 

A bombshell investigative video just released by Infowars.com has exposed what can only be called false and leading advertising by Whole Foods.  It all began when Infowars reporters Aaron Dykes and Melissa Melton visited Whole Foods last week to try and find out what customers thought about Whole Foods selling so many unlabeled genetically modified foods.  The fact was recently admitted by Whole Foods in its own blog post.

As you can see in the video, some customers were shocked to discover that Whole Foods sells GMOs in their store.  The majority of Whole Foods customers, it turned out, had no idea the company was selling GMO.

While talking with customers on camera, Aaron Dykes and Melissa Melton were approached by Whole Foods executive named Libba Letton.  She handles investor relations with Whole Foods, and she’s also in charge of food safety.  In an on-camera interview, she admitted that Whole Foods stores do sell unlabeled GMOs, but her justification for that was that stores everywhere are selling unlabeled GMOS.

As she stated on camera (see video below):

“Unless a store is all organic, every store in the country sells unlabeled genetically modified [foods].”

– Libba Letton, Whole Foods Market, Inc.

On the issue of GMOs, then, Whole Foods is no better than Safeway, or Kroger or even Wal-Mart.

But then Libba said something that will no doubt haunt her and entire Whole Foods executive team for years to come:

“I don’t think that Whole Foods does anything to try and make people think that we don’t have food with GMOs in them, ” she said on camera.

“NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER!”

Libba’s statement is, as you’ll see below, a blatant deception.  Because as the Infowars video shows, Aaron and Melissa located a Whole Foods store in Austin, Texas with a giant logo emblazoned on the side of the store.  As you can see in the photo below, the logo declares: NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER.

So, how can Whole Foods claim “NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER” when even the company’s own top executives admit its stores are knowingly selling artificially engineered, genetically altered ingredients?

The answer, of course, is that Whole Foods is engaged in false advertising and misrepresentation.

Whole Foods is engaged in false advertising

The definition of “false advertising” is:

…The crime or tort of publishing, broadcasting, or otherwise publicly distributing an advertisement that contains an untrue, misleading, or deceptive representation or statement which was made knowingly or recklessly and with the intent to promote the sale of property, goods, or services to the public.

A question, then: Is Whole Foods making untrue, misleading or deceptive statements with the intent to promote the sale of goods to the public?

Absolutely.  Without question.

The claim emblazoned on the front of the Whole Foods stores, as proven in the picture above, says, “NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER.”  And yet the company openly admits to selling an entire array of products in its stores which contain artificially modified ingredients, such as GM corn.

So, how are artificially modified grains not artificial?  It doesn’t add up.  The marketing claim is false.

GMOs are artificial

You might wonder, “What’s the definition of artificial?”

Here it is from Dictionary.com:

Artificial: made by human skill; produced by humans (opposed to natural)

And what, you might ask, is the definition of GMO?

Genetically modified organism: an organism or microorganism whose genetic material has been altered by means of genetic engineering.

“Altering” the DNA of an organism is, by definition, artificial (i.e. not natural).  “Engineering” the DNA of seed is accomplished by human skill, hence it is “artificial” in the same vein as “artificial color” or “artificial flavor.”

GMOs are, of course, blatantly artificial.  No one can argue with a straight face that GMOs are “natural.”  The very definition of the term “modified” (in the context of GMOs) means modified by humans to create something that nature did not create on its own.  Nature does not cross-pollinate humans, insects and plants, for example.  But human genetic engineers do!

So Whole Foods’ claim of “NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER” has no basis in fact.  It is marketing deception, pure and simple.  False advertising.  Blatantly misleading.  That Whole Foods’ own food safety executive says, on camera, that “I don’t think that Whole Foods does anything to try and make people think that we don’t have food with GMOs in them” is pure bull.  It’s the kind of statement you might expect to hear from a Monsanto spokesperson, or from TSA claiming “our radiation scanners are SAFE!”

What is the purpose of this deceptive marketing, you might ask?  To trick customers, of course, into falsely believing Whole Foods sells nothing artificial.

No wonder so many customers and even Whole Foods employees are convinced that Whole Foods sells no GMO!  This was revealed in a recent Organic Spies video that was banned by Youtube because it dared to engage in actual investigative journalism.

Whole Foods carries out false and misleading marketing

The claim about “NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER” is part of a grand bait-and-switch scheme of consumer deception carried out by Whole Foods.  Publicly, Whole Foods runs advertising and uses corporate messages that claim it sells absolutely nothing artificial, but once you’re inside the store, a huge number of products on the shelves contain not only GMOs, but also hidden forms of MSG, too.  Just check the labels of foods sold by Whole Foods, and you’ll see masses of products made with yeast extract and torula yeast – both are hidden forms of MSG.

On its own web page, Whole Foods describes its “quality standards.”  Those standards include the following six points:

  1. We carefully evaluate each and every product we sell.
  2. We feature foods that are free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats.
  3. We are passionate about great tasting food and the pleasure of sharing it with others.
  4. We are committed to foods that are fresh, wholesome and safe to eat.
  5. We seek out and promote organically grown foods.
  6. We provide food and nutritional products that support health and well-being.

If point number 1 is true, then Whole Foods “carefully evaluates” products containing GMOs and then accepts them into the store anyway!  The company is fully aware that it sells GMO ingredients, but doesn’t seem to think this is a problem, even when GMOs are not labeled on its foods, thereby deceiving customers.  How is this anything resembling honesty?

On point number 4, the store says it is “committed” to foods that are “safe to eat.”  Is the company not aware of the recent French research showing rats fed a lifetime of GM corn developed massive, horrifying cancer tumors?

Here’s a picture of the rats, released by the French research team, showing the results of rats fed a lifetime of Monsanto’s GM corn:

If Monsanto’s GM corn did this to these rats, imagine what it’s doing to your body!

Importantly, that’s the same Monsanto GM corn found in many products sold by Whole Foods!

If Whole Foods is committed to safe food, why is it still selling unlabeled GMOs throughout all its stores, especially when those same GMOs are seen as so dangerous around the world that they’ve been banned in numerous countries already?

Point number 6 claims the company provides products that “support health and well-being.”  And that’s true.  Whole Foods does sell many high-quality nutritional products and certified organic food items.  But that’s not all they sell.  They also sell products made largely with Monsanto’s genetically modified corn and other GMOs.  To say “we sell healthy products” while simultaneously selling products containing an unlabeled ingredient widely suspected of causing cancer is a kind of market sleight of hand.  It’s an effort to say here, watch what we’re doing over here with organics, but pay no attention to all the GMOs we’re selling.

To put a giant logo on the side of the store claiming “NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER” while secretly selling unlabeled GMOs all across the store is nothing less than deceptive, misleading marketing.  If Whole Foods were to be totally honest with customers, it would need to add point number 7:

  • 7.  We sell unlabeled GMOs and we have no intention of ever telling you about them.  When you shop at Whole Foods, it’s sort of like a nutritional mine field.  Good luck, customers, because you’re on your own!

From a culture of hippies to a corporate culture of lying

What really concerns me about Whole Foods and its false advertising is not merely the false advertising itself, but that Whole Foods marketing executives think nothing of flatly lying right out in the open about GMOs.  They apparently think their customers are so uninformed that they won’t ever find out about all of the GMOs sold there.

The Whole Foods investor relations executive, Libba Letton, says that GMOs are found everywhere, but only when pressed on the issue in front of a camera.  Is that seriously her excuse for why Whole Foods sells GMOs, too?  Because everyone else does? Really?

This argument is, once again, based on deception because all the other grocery stores across the country don’t slap claims on the sides of their stores that say, “NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER.”  Only Whole Foods makes such a bold claim on the side of its building.  And the claim is not merely false, it is a claim made for the purpose of deceiving customers into purchasing something that isn’t what they thought it was.

This claim is also knowingly untrue.  This is a key element in court cases involving consumer fraud, by the way.  Generally speaking, for a statement to be considered fraud, it must falsely state a material fact while also being known to be false by the person or entity making the claim.  In addition, there must be intent on the part of the party committing fraud to deceive the consumer.  In the case of Whole Foods, all three of the following conditions are true:

  1. The statement “NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER” is a false statement of material fact.
  2. The Whole Foods executives are fully aware that this statement is false, as admitted by CEO John Mackey and others.
  3. The false statement is made for the purpose of deceiving consumers into believing Whole Foods sells no artificial ingredients when, in fact, it does.

Furthermore, it is a simple matter for consumers who might be engaged in a lawsuit against Whole Foods to prove that they RELIED on this claim as source of information from which they made their purchasing decisions at Whole Foods.  This adds weight to any claim of fraud.

As a result, there may be a case for a nationwide class action lawsuit against Whole Foods by consumers who were duped into thinking the stores do not sell GMOs.  It will be interesting to see if such a lawsuit unfolds in the months ahead.

It will also be fascinating to see if Whole Foods continues to try and defend its lie about GMOs, or if it instead makes far-reaching changes to its marketing claims and labeling in an effort to actually tell the truth instead of deceiving customers about GMOs.

Texan John Mackey, 59 years old, CEO of Whole Foods

Whole Foods CEO caught red handed in another online deception

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, of course, has a history of unethical deception.  Back in 2007, as The Wall Street Journal reports:

For about eight years until last August, the company confirms, Mr. Mackey posted numerous messages on Yahoo Finance stock forums as Rahodeb.  It’s an anagram of Deborah, Mr. Mackey’s wife’s name.  Rahodeb cheered Whole Foods’ financial results, trumpeted his gains on the stock and bashed Wild Oats.  Rahodeb even defended Mr. Mackey’s haircut when another user poked fun at a photo in the annual report.  “I like Mackey’s haircut,” Rahodeb said.  “I think he looks cute!”

Mr. Mackey’s online alter ego came to light in a document made public late Tuesday by the Federal Trade Commission in its lawsuit seeking to block the Wild Oats takeover on antitrust grounds.  Submitted under seal when the suit was filed in June, the filing included a quotation from the Yahoo site.  A Federal Trade Commission footnote said, “As here, Mr. Mackey often posted to Internet sites pseudonymously, often using the name Rahodeb.”

When this information came to light, instead of admitting wrongdoing, John Mackey claimed the FTC released the information “to embarrass both me and Whole Foods.”  Oh, right, because it’s the FTC’s fault that Mackey was trying to bash his competition using a fake username in an online finance message board, leading up to Whole Foods trying to purchase Wild Oats.

Mackey even used his fake blogger name – – get this – – admire himself!  “While I’m not a ‘Mackey groupie,’ I do admire what the man has accomplished,” he wrote about himself. (Seriously.)

As the WSJ also reports:

Rahodeb [John Mackey] filed his last post on the Yahoo message board.  He said he had lost a bet with “hubris12000” about Whole Foods’ stock performance, and the bet’s terms required that he quit posting.  He blamed the whims of the stock market for a 40% decline in the company’s shares.

Yeah, right.

As Techdirt.com adds, “He even made predictions about the company’s stock price, putting out extremely high estimates for its performance.  It’s not clear that what he did was necessarily illegal, but his posting seems unethical and highly foolish, at the very least.  If nothing else, the company’s stockholders should wonder about what the boss is doing with his time.”

The greatest corporate lies of all time

With its “NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER” claim, Whole Foods now joins the Hall of Fame of the greatest corporate lies of all time.

Other corporate lies in the Hall of Fame include:

“Better Living Through Chemistry” – Dupont, 1935-1982

“DDT is safe to use around humans” – Monsanto, 1944

“Nicotine is not addictive” – Big Tobacco executives, 1994

“Corexit is safe for aquatic life” – British Petroleum (BP), 2010

“NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER”  – Whole Foods, 2012

You have to wonder: How is Whole Foods going to try to argue its way out of this monumental lie?  Given that the company has already openly admitted to selling GMOs in its stores, it must now argue one of the following:

1)  That GMO’s are somehow not artificial – – an argument as absurd as claiming DDT is “natural,” too, and maybe Whole Foods should sell DDT in all its foods and offer a new beverage called Agent Orange Smoothie.

2) That the “NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER” claim somehow doesn’t apply to the products it sells inside its stores.  This, too, is patently absurd.  The claim is emblazed on the side of the store, unmistakably visible to everyone who enters the store, and it exists for the purpose of claiming that the products inside the store contain nothing artificial.  The sign obviously refers to items for sale inside the store.

For Whole Foods to claim “NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER” and then sell GMOs inside its store is the logical equivalent of a store claiming “NO PESTICIDES, EVER” but then selling masses of pesticide-laden foods in its store.  The claim is a LIE.  It is a DECEPTION.  And it may even be the undoing of this company.

Are we witnessing the fall of Whole Foods?

When I first began covering the Organic Spies video and the Whole Foods GMO fiasco, I had no idea how deep the culture of deception really went inside the company.  Knowing what I know now, about how the CEO knowingly deceives people online, how the company knowingly makes false marketing claims, and how it sells masses of genetically modified ingredients in the products on its shelves without bothering to label them, I’m beginning to think we’re actually witnessing the opening chapter of the implosion of Whole Foods.

I believe that once Whole Foods’ customers become fully informed of the fact that Whole Foods is selling foods containing Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, many of them will stop shopping there altogether.

Whole Foods exists only because of the trust of its customers.  Its customers are its greatest asset!  And when that trust is revealed to have been betrayed, Whole Foods has nothing but empty buildings, angry ex-customers and tens of millions of dollars worth of food products marching toward an expiration date.

Jessica Alba goes shopping at Whole Foods in Beverly Hills with her daughter Haven.

Actress Mila Kunis leaving Whole Foods in Los Angeles

You can’t force people to shop at Whole Foods, obviously.  They do so voluntarily.  And this voluntary action is based entirely on a level of trust that now appears to have been betrayed.

That’s why I also think there’s a good chance we will see a class action lawsuit formed against Whole Foods, and that such a lawsuit could involve billions of dollars worth of groceries people bought from Whole Foods, completely unaware they were buying GMOs.

How much money have you spent at Whole Foods?  I’ve spent thousands of dollars there, for sure.  Maybe tens of thousands.  Years ago when I shopped there frequently, I had no idea Whole Foods was selling GMOs, either.  Like many of you, I was deceived by Whole Foods, and because of that deception, I unknowingly purchased products there that contained genetically modified organisms.

How many other customers have been tricked by Whole Foods into purchasing – – and consuming! – – GMOs?

Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake leaving Whole Foods in Brentwood, California

Whole Foods, Half Truths

The bottom line on this comes down to a simple question: If they’re selling whole foods, why can’t they tell the whole truth about them?

Is the company’s new slogan: Whole Foods, Half Truths?

Why all of the deception?  Why not tell the truth?  Why not come clean with its customers?

That answer shouldn’t be all that surprising: Selling GMO foods is highly profitable.  In fact, processed foods made with GMOs are far more profitable than organic produce, for example, on which profit margins are very thin.  I wouldn’t be surprised if something like 35% of Whole Foods profits come from selling products containing genetically modified ingredients.

To ditch GMOs now would clobber the corporation’s profits, and therefore also its share price.  And as you well know, public companies are routinely far more interested in keeping their share prices high than they are in serving the human interests of their customers.

Whole Foods probably thinks it’s going to make more money continuing to sell GMOs, even while falsely claiming “NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, EVER” on its stores.  But this may be a gross miscalculation.  Because if Whole Foods doesn’t come clean, its customers are going to find out the truth about the situation sooner or later and Whole Foods may go down in history as the once-trusted grocer that BETRAYED ITS CUSTOMERS and subsequently lost huge market share.

Mark my words: What appears today on whatever I write becomes knowledge in 1-3 years.  What I’m writing about GMOs in 2012 will be widely known among health food consumers by 2013-2015.

That’s why if Whole Foods doesn’t get behind Proposition 37 with some serious financial support, I suspect it’s going to be seen as allying with Monsanto, Dupont and Nestle rather than defending the interests of its own consumers.

Why I believe Whole Foods may have already sold us out

Frankly, I believe Whole Foods may already be aligned with Monsanto.  I suspect Whole Foods has long since sold out and actually has NO intention of labeling its products with their GMO content.  Based on the behavior I’ve seen from this company and some (but not all of) its executives, I believe Whole Foods has turned to evil… joined the Dark Side, so to speak.  And instead of telling the truth, it is engaged in a pattern of spin and excuse-making to try to deflect any blame from itself.

The one executive at Whole Foods who I think is honestly against all this GMO nonsense is co-president Walter Robb, an advocate of “conscious capitalism.”  I suspect that, in his heart, Walter Robb knows GMOs are wrong and destructive, and he’d like to see Whole Foods get out of the business of GMOs altogether.  But he’s fighting against a corporate culture that’s a lot more interested in profit than in actually doing good in the world.  Shareholders demand profits, after all, not integrity.

The core of so-called “conscious capitalism” is, of course, honest communication between a corporation and its customers.  On that point, Whole Foods has slipped… badly.  The company can no longer be described as practicing conscious capitalism.  It has devolved into a for-profit scheme of withholding information from customers while trying to confuse people with bait-and-switch marketing tactics.

My guess is that if Whole Foods somehow finds the courage to do the right thing on Proposition 37 or GMO labeling, Walter Robb will be the internal force that makes it happen, even against the wishes of John Mackey who seems to be driven by greed and profit.

I invite you to email co-president Walter Robb and encourage him, in polite terms, to help save Whole Foods in three ways:

  1. Make a large donation to Proposition 37 in California.
  2. Announce a time-line requirement for all foods sold through Whole Foods to be labeled with their GMO content.
  3. Proactively educate Whole Foods employees and customers about the reality of genetically modified foods being sold throughout the stores.

You can email Walter Robb at:

Walter.Robb@wholefoods.com

Also contact Libba Letton and let her know what you think about “food safety” at Whole Foods

Libba Letton lists her contact information openly and publicly on the Whole Foods website.  Her areas of focus are “investor relations” and “food safety.”

You can email her at:

Libba.Letton@wholefoods.com

I encourage you to contact her and let her know what you think about Whole Foods deceiving consumers with the “NOTHING ARTIFICIAL” claim while selling GMOs in the store.

If you do email her, please be polite, but firm.  If you are a Whole Foods customer, you may wish to let know that fact.  Please do not be unprofessional or threatening in your emails, even if you are angry at Whole Foods.  Remember that if you email Whole Foods, they will have your email address.  You may wish to use a secondary email address for this purpose.

October 16th is “take your GMOs back to Whole Foods” day

Next Tuesday, October 16th, join others in returning any GMO food items back to Whole Foods and demanding a refund.

Which food items contain GMO? Almost everything made with corn that isn’t certified organic.

Class action lawsuit against Whole Foods?

If any law firms are interested in pursuing a class action lawsuit against Whole Foods for its misleading advertising and false claims, I may be interested in helping you organize such an effort.

Call or email us if you wish to pursue this issue.  We can help spread the word about a class action lawsuit and even distribute your phone number where people who believe they have been victimized by blatantly misleading marketing claims can call and file their complaints.