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Door County Grocer Calls GMO Food Labels An 'Aggressive Step'

A Door County grocer says the recent announcement by Whole Foods Market to require labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores is a significant step. 

"It's a very aggressive step but one that also involves a lot of cost and a lot of companies adjusting their current regulations and rules to make that work," says Jon Calhoun, manager at Econofoods in Sturgeon Bay.

Calhoun says the most important thing he stresses to his customers about food choice is education.

"Is it good for the country, is it good for our health? Yes, but it is up to each of us to educate ourselves on the products," says Calhoun.

Corn and soybeans are just two examples of foods which are commonly genetically altered.

Many processed foods also contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), according to Jody Anderson, RN and AADP-certified health coach of Succeed Health in Algoma.

Anderson tells labeling of genetically modified food is another tool consumers can use to decide which items to purchase.

"You walk through any grocery store and I'm noticing that people are using (the labels) as a comparison tool," says Anderson. "And by having GMO labeling that's just another added perk to the regulated standard food labels that the FDA provides right now."

Anderson says she thinks the decision by Whole Foods will serve as a catalyst for other retailers to take the same step. She says she also hopes it will trigger more research into the long-term health effects of food containing GMOs.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the trade group that represents major food companies and retailers, issued a statement opposing the move. "These labels could mislead consumers into believing that these food products are somehow different or present a special risk or a potential risk," Louis Finkel, the organization's executive director of government affairs, said in the statement.

Finkel also notes that the Food and Drug Administration, as well as regulatory and scientific bodies including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, had deemed genetically modified products safe. (New York Times: Major Grocer to Label Foods With Gene-Modified Content)

Whole Foods' new labeling requirement is to be in place within five years.


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