Pacific Business News

by Staff

Down to Earth Organic & Natural said its five stores in Hawaii will begin requiring foods with ingredients containing genetically-modified organisms to be labeled as such by 2018, following Whole Foods Market's announcement last week that it will do the same.

Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market (NYSE: WFM), said in a statement that the company was "putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer's right to know." The company noted that it has labeled its private label products as non-GMO since 2009 and said it has been collaborating with suppliers for several years to source products without genetically-modified ingredients.

Mark Fergusson, chief organic officer of Honolulu-based Down to Earth, called the Whole Foods announcement a "game changer."

"It marks a big victory in the move towards the labeling of genetically labeled foods," Fergusson said in a statement. "Down to Earth will monitor and review the situation and may move our implementation date earlier if that becomes possible."

In the meantime, the company is gradually eliminating products that may contain GMOs and is avoiding adding any new products that may contain GMO ingredients.

"The natural products industry along with many concerned consumers and others, have long pressed for and supported efforts to require mandatory labeling of foods containing GMOs," Fergusson said.

He also noted that the Hawaii Legislature is considering legislation that would impose labeling requirements and import restrictions on genetically-modified produce. House Bill 174 crossed over last week to the Senate, where it is awaiting committee hearings.

Down to Earth has four stores on Oahu, in Honolulu, Aiea, Kailua and Kapolei, and one store on Maui, in Kahului.The above is taken from Pacific Business News.