GMO’s & Glyphosate in Whole Foods’ Meats?

At Whole Foods Markets, trusting folks spend top dollar for meat raised with animals’ wellbeing in mind. Their “5-Step Animal Welfare” program rates animal treatment, and this is positive. However they conveniently ignore GMO’s, Glyphosate, and toxins in animal feed. This loophole can cover up a lot of toxic foods sold to trusting customers, while quietly protecting suppliers committed to chemical farming. Why not protect their consumers and also check for clean animal feed?

Yes, Whole Foods Market established the Global Animal Partnership, a non-profit organization, to develop animal welfare standards for their 431 stores. The partnership rates farms based on animal treatment, crowding, cages, and access to pasture. In many ways this is a good program that encourages farmers to treat their animals well, not permitting routine hormones, antibiotics, or animal by-products. This is a good step. But allowing GMO’s and Glyphosate in all 5 levels, sends me to competitor groceries and local farmers markets for my meats.

GMO’s found in Meat, Fish, Eggs and Dairy Products
Animal feed can be a source of GMO’s. What did that cow, chicken or pig eat? Any of these could be from animals fed GMO feed if not organic or verified as non-GMO.  

The backyard chicken trend has also created a strong market for non-GMO feed. Scratch and Peck Feeds’ sales grew by 40 percent in 2015. “People don’t want to support products from factory farms,” Ambauen-Meade says. “They want a closer connection to food, and backyard chickens are an easy way to do that.”

Whole Foods Market is also having a big impact. Companies that sell meat and dairy products to Whole Foods are getting their products non-GMO verified to avoid the retailer’s GMO labeling requirement, which takes effect in 2018. Non-GMO verified meat products will require verified feed.

According to Rhonda Cole, sourcing agent for Whole Foods Market, a full range of products, including poultry, turkey, pork, dairy, fish, and cheese are being transitioned to non-GMO verification. “We’re looking at all meat, dairy, and egg programs in our stores today,” she says. A growing number of meat, dairy, and egg suppliers are raising their animals on non-GMO feed.

In the farming industry, non-GMO animal feed is seeing tremendous growth as consumer awareness of risks of genetically modified foods is pushing meat, dairy, and egg producers to sell products derived from non-GMO feed.

Glyphosate, the Forgotton Toxin:
What about Glyphosate residues in non-GMO animal products? Glyphosate is used in a very wide range of crops including non-GMO animal feed, fruit and vegetables. The foods in which the most Glyphosate residue is allowed include GMO crops, animal feed, cereal grain, oil seeds and dried lentils, peas and beans. Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready GMO crops currently include soy, corn, canola, alfalfa, cotton, and sorghum, with wheat ‘under development’. Grains, seeds and dried beans, even those labeled non-GMO, have higher Glyphosate concentrations because these crops receive a heavy dose of Roundup immediately before harvesting — a process know as “desiccation”. This destroys the plant along with the weeds, allowing farmers to harvest more efficiently, and increasing the yield by about 10%. 

Whole Foods program is misleading, as it allows all levels of meats to be fed GMO grains and Glyphosate. So even the top level Step-5 meats may be fed GMO grains and Glyphosate. Some of Whole Foods chicken is labeled “Organic”. So I buy only “Organic” meats at Whole Foods Markets, and I carefully avoid all the Levels 1 through 5.

A class action lawsuit filed in California on Monday, by a well-known animal rights group alleges that the grocery chain’s attempts to monitor how its suppliers treat their animals are a “sham.” And that its customers are paying for it.

“When a grocery store’s standards for improved animal welfare are not actually enforced or do not require meaningfully better treatment for meat animals compared to the industry standard, consumers are deceived into paying a higher price for meat that fails to offer the benefit they seek,” the suit against Whole Foods, filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of .

“The entire audit process for Whole Foods’ animal welfare standards is a sham because it occurs infrequently and violations of the standards do not cause loss of certification,” the complaint reads. “… Standards that are not actually enforced create a false impression of ensuring a more humanely treated, higher quality animal product — when in fact they ensure no such thing.”

PETA alleged that Whole Foods audits suppliers just once every 15 months; that violators do not face repercussions; that the standards “barely exceed common industry practices”; and that Whole Foods extracts a premium from customers under “false advertising.”

In the suit, PETA asks the court to prevent Whole Foods “from continuing its unfair and deceptive business practices” and “restore to Plaintiff Williams and members of the Class any money that Defendants acquired by unfair competition.”

PETA’s broadside against the chain came a day after it released video — cited in the class action — of alleged pig abuse at a farm in Pennsylvania that supplies about 20 Whole Foods outlets in the Philadelphia area. The allegations hit a chain that is already struggling with disappointing earnings and the aftermath of an overcharging scandal. 

“Whole Foods has … pushed this myth of so-called ‘humanely raised meat,’” Dan Paden, an associate director of evidence analysis at PETA, said after the video’s release. “People who do care, who are well-intentioned, are led to believe that they are buying meat from animals who lived happy lives.”

“You can fool some of the people some of the time — and that’s enough to make a decent living.”
W.C. Fields

Sources:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/09/22/why-that-expensive-humanely-treated-whole-foods-meat-might-be-a-sham/

http://www.beefmagazine.com/health/vets-opinion/0422-whole-foods-welfare-ratings

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/mission-values/animal-welfare/5-step-animal-welfare-rating

http://www.globalanimalpartnership.org/5-step-animal-welfare-rating-program

http://www.care2.com/causes/whole-foods-sued-for-false-humane-meat-claims.html

http://non-gmoreport.com/articles/may-2015/consumer-awareness-driving-strong-demand-for-non-GMO-feed.php