Whole Foods Ramps Up Prop. 37 Support

Company Co-CEO Walter Robb appears in Marin to tout Proposition 37, which would require the labeling of genetically engineered food.

With polls showing dwindling support for Proposition 37 just days before the Nov. 6 election, Whole Foods Market is ramping up its support for the ballot measure, which seeks to require food manufacturers to label genetically modified food (or GMOs - genetically modified organisms).

Whole Foods Market Co-CEO Walter Robb appeared Thursday at the Mill Valley Whole Foods on Miller Avenue, the site of the grocery store he started in 1992 before working his way up the Whole Foods hierarchy, to show support for Prop. 37. Robb, who has a home in San Rafael, bought Jerry’s Meats and Deli in the Miller Ave. location and sold the market to the Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods in 1992. 

Whole Foods officials formally announced the company's support for Prop. 37 in September. But as the election approaches, additional signage is going up at its stores and employees throughout the state have been trained on GMOs and the ballot measure, Robb said.

Robb told Patch that it’s unclear if Prop. 37’s passage would create a financial burden for Whole Foods, but nevertheless he said the company is “enthusiastically” supporting it because the company's major priorities include “transparency” and “customers’ right to know.”

That issue - the alleged cost of labeling foods containing genetically altered ingredients and manufacturers passing on those costs to consumers - has been a central argument by 37's opponents. Food giants like Monsanto, DuPoint, PepsiCo, General Mills and Kellogg have raised $44 million for No on Prop. 37 to pay for TV advertising making that case, while the Yes on 37 campaign has raised roughly $7 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Despite the uphill fundraising battle, Whole Foods has been working in partnership with the Yes on 37 campaign and helped start the Non GMO Project, Robb said.

He said Whole Foods carries 5,000 products that are verified by the Non-GMO Project and encourages other food makers to get verified. The USDA National Organic Standards also prohibit the use of GMOs, Robb said, meaning the company’s 365 Everyday Value organic products and other organic items are also GMO free. For Non-GMO month in October, Whole Foods had a three-day sale on Non-GMO Project verified items.

Prop. 37 will require manufacturers to spend some cash to change their labels, but Robb argued they won’t have to make the modification until 2014, which should provide plenty of time to adjust and may come at a time when they would already update labels.

Some have questioned the claim of increased costs. An analysis by the LA Times' opinion staff concluded that the labeling wouldn’t result in significant increases in food costs. “After all, food companies regularly change their labels in one way or another," the Times said. 

Whole Foods has put the bulk of its Yes on 37 efforts into social media and also has some radio ads that will become more prevalent in the days before the election.

To date, it hasn't been enough to sway public opinion. A recent poll by the California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University School of Public Policy revealed 39.1 percent of likely California voters support the Prop. 37, according to the LA Times. The poll also found that 50.5 percent oppose the labeling and 10.5 percent are undecided. 

GMOs are created by gene splicing techniques. Opponents argue it creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes. GMO labeling is mandatory is almost 50 countries in the world.

According to the nonprofit Non GMO Project, “high-risk crops” that are .


Prop. 37 will create a national standard for Non-GMO products, said Robb, who isn’t the only Marin grocery leader to take a stance supporting Prop. 37.

Mark Squire, owner of Fairfax’s Good Earth Natural Foods, had a heavy hand in the creation of the Non-GMO Project and sits on its board.

“I’ve been kind of a foodie activist my whole life. This is a huge opportunity for the people to take the power back from these corporations,” Squire told the San Anselmo Town Council recently. “It’s a law that just requires them to put it on a label. I think they feel very threatened because they know people won’t want to eat it if they know what they are eating.”

Fairfax’s Good Earth Natural Foods also participated in non-GMO month, with specials, shelf tags, displays and educational materials to help shoppers identify Non-GMO Project verified options.

Support for Prop. 37 appears strong in Ross Valley, as Yes on 37 signs are in no short supply and local groups, including Sustainable Fairfax and San Anselmo’s Quality of Life Commission have endorsed Prop. 37.

The Fairfax Town Council audience erupted into applause and cheers Aug. 1 after the council adopted a resolution in support of Prop. 37.

The San Anselmo council didn’t take a stance on Prop. 37 because they have an agreement to not make political endorsements.

Genetically modified food is created by “the introduction of foreign genes in a violent way into other species,” Squire told the San Anselmo council at its Oct. 9 meeting. “There is a lot of misinformation going around that somehow it’s the same kind of technology we’ve been doing for centuries.”


Are you in favor of Prop. 37? Tell us why or why not in the comments!

Magoo November 02, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Whole Foods (at least at Blithedale) has bumper stickers and badges in support of Prop 37.
Me November 02, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Has Whole Foods made a monetary contribution to Yes on Prop 37?
Jim Welte November 02, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Good question Saul. They are not listed among the top 10 donors to Prop. 37 on Maplight, but many of their vendors are: http://votersedge.org/california/ballot-measures/2012/november/prop-37/funding
Rico November 02, 2012 at 06:54 PM
I think that Active Thinker is right, many people don't care at all about what they eat or the drugs that they take. The majority thinks that by paying healthcare insurance premiums that will cure them when they get sick from all this junk being sold. What don't understand is that producers of GMO foods receive taxpayer subsidies and get tax breaks. Producing GMO food products is probably much more expensive than producing organic products. The idea is to have complete corporate control of food and seed production. It is either "go big or get out". Squeeze the small family organic producers out of the marketplace. By the way, producers create new labels all the time for relabeling and repositioning in markets. The costs are built into all products already. I know people in the advertising business who their main bread and butter work is creating new labels year round. It is like a science when creating displays, I call it "marketing engineering". There is a lot more to marketing promotion than most people are aware of. I voted yes on 37, but I won't be surprised at all if it fails.
Dana B November 03, 2012 at 02:41 AM
This is so spectacular! Coming from the younger crowd of Marin county, I'd LOVE to see this proposition passed! I feel like the only teenager who actually wants to know what they're eating!
William Bertram November 03, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Sorry, but this article is a load of 'Happy-Poo' and rubbish by omission! Watch this link and tell me otherwise...Seriously! tv.naturalnews.com/v.asp?v=484FC93C887B206A895A116C0A3469E3
Alaria Sands November 03, 2012 at 04:02 AM
I personally won't be buying the organic lines of food processors who supported the No on 37 campaign and will vote with my food dollars for food sector businesses that acknowledge that I have a right to food choice (for whatever reason, and for many people this isn't just about science and what group recommends what) and are willing to stand behind what they make by labeling it. The number of people who don't want to eat transgenics doused in pesticides three times a day is growing, and aside from voting for Prop 37, the best way we can create an alternative to the "modern" food industry is to support businesses that support us. Thank you Whole Foods. Even if Prop 37 doesn't win, the media attention and all the public education (I've talked to hundreds of people) have brought the issue of transgenics into public awareness.
Sierra Salin November 03, 2012 at 04:29 AM
Keep in mind that the top six funders of No on 37 are also the six largest pesticide companies in the world! That alone should tell you that their stance has nothing to do with your health and well-being. In my opinion, and many others, the GMO issue is potentially as toxic and long lasting as nuclear wastes, on our future. We know not what we are doing, AND the effects are changing nature permanently.... Way too little and too late from Whole Foods. Looks more like they want to appear to have helped. Where HAVE they been? Whole foods sure appears to be mostly about profit and greenie green"ness." You can search for yourself the moral/ethical stance of the owner towards health care, or even marketing and how "organic" their products are or have been in the past. For anyone on the GMO fence, or wanting to be a bit more educated, watch this starting at 19 min 20 sec. http://vimeo.com/52508732 Great explanation of the French rat/GMO study & tumors, etc. Everybody should be aware of this.... Really. Here is a petition I have started http://www.change.org/petitions/monsanto-u-s-government-quit-messing-with-our-food-and-the-future-of-the-natural-world The best defense is, get involved, and counteract the 50+ million$ monsanto campaign.
Rico November 03, 2012 at 05:47 PM
What organic food producers support NO on Prop 37 ? I have not heard of any, in fact, i have read that the opposite is true.
valeri hood November 04, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Raal support for prop 37 would come in the way of a donation from whole foods- how many stores do they have?- i believe over 200- we have asked them for a donation- that is what it would actually take to help win this campaign- we needed a tv ad blitz months ago- too little too late, whole foods- too much air and too little action+- what do you see in their store promoting prop 37- not much- really i think it's all about pr and the pressure that folks around here finally put on them- guess we should have done a boycott- what really turned the tables was the great utube that came out, exposing the fact that their employees believed that it was non-gmo- in actual fact- they have no organic sushi, no organic soup or salad until lately- with very limited items- pay a lot of money for food you could buy anywhere- United Market does a better job than whole paycheck, and the only really good place to shop is the good earth- right now we are down to 40% in the polls- tied with agent orange monsanto- if people want to help, get down to the democratic headquarters and help turn out the vote- if you are a facebook person, facebook about prop 37- put the new piece found at carighttoknow.org- it rebutts monsantos lies and shows how much dupont, monsant, nestle and the rest have donated- this election could turn on 10 votes- go out and find one person and get them to vote and you could help to turn the tide!
William Bertram November 04, 2012 at 04:21 PM
True, but 35-43% of everything Wholefoods sells is GMO. The research is in my link below and all over the web. Hate to burst your bubble but Wholefoods makes 3+Billion $ a year from GMO foods. They take in nearly a 100 billion dollars annually nationwide. Yeah, that surprised me too!~
William Bertram November 04, 2012 at 04:22 PM
William Bertram November 04, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Thank you valeri. You are totally on-the-mark with your comment. Wholefoods is IN the pockets of Monsanto, and as much as people don't want to believe this, as it disrupts their paradigm of presumed self awareness about what they are buying, it IS true! I won't throw out facts and websites of people who have done the research about this. I EXPECT others to do what I have done, namely; RESEARCH! I no longer eat anything with corn or soy products in them anymore. Strangely, my asthma and allergies have gotten 70% better over the last several months! I have 3 different, expensive inhalers that made NO difference. I cut out the soy and the corn and BINGO...a LIFE worth living again!~
William Bertram November 04, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Lastly, what Galls me the most is the timing of wholefoods 'Ramping Up' support for Prop 37 at the LAST possible minute. It is not only an insincere and obvious (yet VERY lame) attempt to retain their shopping base, but maddeningly reeks of corporate shill 'Scumbagism'. CEO Walter Robb is a crony to the same A-holes that poison third world countries in the name of profits and NON-dislosure. He IS Dupont! He IS Monsanto! This whole article is a sad, tasteless waste of your mind and attention IF you haven't researched FURTHER on what is REALLY going on. You are being POISONED, not only by fluoride, chloramine, aspartame(NutraSweet), High fructose corn syrup, etc. But the Fukushima nuclear power plant STILL spews the same radiation it did when it exploded and NOTHING is being done because of how lethal it is. No one can get near it. Not even robots!! Can you spare a BP oil spill disaster? Spare change? Spare change? ...Change?
Sierra Salin November 04, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Will, little is being done at Fukushima, not only because of radiation. There is and has been much more which could have been don to stabilize the teetering mess. Tepco has said that they are responsible to their shareholders, not the public, the future, or to Nature. Japanese gov apparently agreed, and other nations have not exactly forced the clean up or monitoring. Gmo's ARE as toxic and as long term damaging as nuclear radiation in the overall changes to environmental systems, and genetic content. We know not what we are messing with, and, well, who cares, eh? There Is money to be, and being made. Whole foods is a profiteering shill. I rarely ever shop at or enter one
William Bertram November 05, 2012 at 07:34 AM
It's 'William', not 'Will'. You and I are on the same page, but I won't lay down on content or subject. Google Jim Stone and see what he has to say on Fukushima. It adds a whole NEW possibility to what caused the tidal wave and WHY!!~
David Randolph November 05, 2012 at 08:37 PM
I rarely shop there but the other day I needed something and dropped in, wound up with a bag of groceries and then saw the Yes on Prop 37 sign and it was flashing on the checkout screen as well. Pissed me off so I left my groceries there on the counter, and told the checker why I was leaving and they could go put the stuff back themselves. That's called voting with your feet.
Jay Strauss November 05, 2012 at 11:36 PM
of course WF supports 37--a major part of their marketing is based on fear (of death, ill health, etc) which is why they can charge so much---there is no evidence whatsoever that anything they do makes us healthier or live longer---its all impressionistic and fear based, well packaged and bathed in new age mumbo jumbo----the WF founder is supposedly a libertarian, except where it furthers his narrow interest---37 is the dumbest 'feel-good' proposal since prop 65 put a sign on virtually every large building in the state warning that there are bad chemicals inside---for all the good that's done
Michael Banks November 06, 2012 at 02:03 AM
So we're allowing the very future of humanity to be jeopardized cos people don't care?! It's not that the masses don't care it's just they have not been educated and have also been brainwashed by the commercial powers that are only interested in power and control, profit and self-interest. If what I said is not blindingly obvious God help us all!!
Michael Banks November 06, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Ricardo - your point about having "complete corporate control of food and seed production" is well made and on point. Moreover if you factor in geo-engineering (chemtrails) and you have the perfect corporate heist for Monsanto and its aluminum resistant seeds. Evil - no other word for it. Check out the recent documentary "Why in the worlds are they spraying."
Michael Banks November 06, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Hear, hear Alaria - well said!
Michael Banks November 06, 2012 at 02:13 AM
And, William, the biggest monster that literally threatend our existence on the planet - aerosol spraying all over the world by military aircraft of nano particles of aluminum dioxide, barium, stronitum etc etc that WE ARE INHALING!!! Check out "Why in the workd are they spraying?" The chemtrail spraying is connected to crops, climate change, and the weaponization of the weather (HAARP in Alaska)
Michael Banks November 06, 2012 at 02:14 AM
I have also read Jim Stone on Fukishima - HAARP etc.
Erin November 06, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Exactly - I will follow your great example and no longer shop there.
Erin November 06, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Ricardo - You will be amazed Kashi, Gardenburger, Larabars, Naked Juide etc all owned by Kellogs, General Mills, Pepsi Check out this link http://ecochildsplay.com/2012/08/22/ca-prop-37-which-organic-companies-dont-support-gmo-labeling/
Jane Gray November 06, 2012 at 03:18 AM
I support 37,Jane Gray
Mark Schoenbaum November 06, 2012 at 03:23 AM
if GMO's are harmless then why oppose labeling?
William Bertram November 06, 2012 at 07:23 AM
Here is a very concise spinet concerning GMO's and autism. Seriously worth a watch! www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_dKcVBnfvBc
Craig Slater December 30, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Here is a link to my article published in the Marin IJ. Marin Voice: Prop. 37 -- GMO corporations and Whole Foods dumb down California http://www.marinij.com/basketball/ci_22085058/marin-voice-prop-37-gmo-corporations-and-whole
Craig Slater December 30, 2012 at 08:07 PM
excerpt "Prop 37- California Fooled by Nasty GMO Corporations- Newspapers and Whole Foods Dumb Down. Can We Talk? .. California foodies looked to Whole Foods, the world's largest natural foods retailer, for salvation. But Whole Foods' savvy leaders were already cooly playing the market with two faces, one public and one corporate. While the Prop 37 campaign repeatedly asked for early support, Whole Foods declined, waiting until September to endorse. In October, they ramped up signage at their stores, to appeal to customers, nearly all of whom already favored Prop 37. Yes, co-CEO Walter Robb did make a few media appearances, but these spots were last minute, low-key, ineffectual, cosmetic. In the new era of Citizen's United, when big money can so sway public opinion, why did Whole Foods make only one donation of $25,000 to Prop 37 on November 2, just four days before Election Day!? That was a scroogely token from a global corporation with $17 billion of capitalization and 70 sparkling stores in California. Whole Foods was the pivotal player who could change the game. Real support from Whole Foods would have been early and substantial; real support would have elevated public awareness and shifted the entire debate. But Whole Foods sidestepped and bowed down, allowing GMO corporations to rule the airwaves, to poison the well of public consciousness. When it really counted, Whole Foods' leaders failed the causes of transparency, accountability and liberty they profess."


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