This week, Wegmans announced the supermarket opposed mandatory GE labeling and instead supports a voluntary approach.
Thousands of loyal Wegmans shoppers pledged to take their business elsewhere.
Wegmans’ response? To call them anti-scientific luddites who don’t do their homework.
Apparently, in Wegmans’ world, the customer is always wrong.
Here’s their response:
“I have been reading all the comments. Clearly, and no surprise, GMOs are a polarizing topic. It’s why we invested so much time and energy arriving at a point of view, after studying and talking with experts on all sides of the issue. Now, in the interest of transparency, we have shared our conclusions with you. Here are some things I’d like to say and points I want to clarify: First, in arriving at our position, we put our trust in science. We get it; I get it…trust in government regulators varies widely, and the same is true for major companies who developed the technology and now benefit greatly from genetic engineering. We are not here to defend or debate these points. But, we cannot ignore the large body of science that says GMOs are safe. With that said, we believe it’s time for FDA to mandate approval of new foods produced by GMO technology before products hit the market. Today, this process is voluntary. We also believe in choice. If a customer wants to avoid GMOs, whatever the reason, they should be able to. Today, the best option is certified organic, because USDA regulations prohibit the use of GMO seeds or any ingredient derived from a GMO, and we offer more than 3,000 certified organic choices in our store. We also offer products verified by the non-GMO project. There needs to be a clear definition of what it means to be non-GMO, one that is recognized nationally. It makes sense to us to label products that are free of GMO ingredients when we think about how most other products are labeled to signal things a customer may want to avoid (think gluten free, vegan, no antibiotics/hormones). That is, make it easy to spot the exceptions. Finally, I have one request. Please, please take the time to read our entire FAQ. Yes, I know it’s lengthy and gets a little heavy at times (you should have seen the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd drafts), but I believe we have addressed many of the questions and concerns expressed in your comments.”
First, Wegmans says GMOs are “a polarizing topic.” Not exactly.
Comments on our Facebook back (and Wegmans’ own blog) are overwhelmingly opposed to Wegmans’ policy.
Second, Wegman says they talked to “experts on all side of the issue.”
But, we never got a call. So much for talking to the experts.
Third, Wegmans says GMOs are safe.
But, GE labeling is not about safety. If food is unsafe, we take it off the shelves. We don’t slap a label on it.
Fourth, Wegmans says they put their trust “in science.”
So does the Just Label it campaign, and the science is crystal clear. As we noted this week, the widespread adoption of GE crops has increased herbicide applications and a new study found “extreme” levels of glyphosate in food.
Fifth, Wegmans says GMOs should be subject to mandatory FDA reviews.
Wegmans admits the current voluntary reviews – which are based on industry science – are not good enough. So, if the current system is broken, as Wegmans concedes, shouldn’t consumer be able to choose to add unregulated GMOs to their diets. Apparently, not.
Sixth, Wegmans says consumers can buy organic. And, there is no question that organic is non-GMO and a whole lot more. But, what about consumers who don’t want to buy organic? Wegmans say they can buy non-GMO certified products – if they can find them.
Finally, Wegmans says “please please” read their FAQs.
We did. And, if many of the answers seemed to be pulled from Monsanto’s web site, it might be because the their FAQs includes a link to a web site funded by Monsanto.
What should consumer do? Here is one solution, from a comment on Wegmans’ web site:
“I’m heading out to do my holiday shopping and I’ll be driving right past Wegman’s. This family’s hard earned money will be supporting companies that support our freedom to be informed consumers.”