Trader Joe’s Joins Growing Movement
To Eliminate Gene-Altered Foods
By Heather Whitehead



Reinforcing the commitment it made a year ago, the national supermarket chain, Trader Joe’s, announced to its customers recently that it has successfully removed genetically engineered (GE) food from the majority of its store brand products. This announcement comes at a time when an increasing number of U.S. food companies are questioning the use of GE food ingredients in their products.

“Genetically-engineered food poses unwanted environmental and health risks,” said Heather Whitehead, Greenpeace Genetic Engineering Campaigner. “Trader Joe’s decision to remove genetically-engineered food from its products demonstrates that food companies are becoming wary of the risks associated with these experimental foods.”

Other supermarkets that still use GE ingredients in their store brands are feeling increasing pressure from consumers around the nation. In New England, over 40 Shaw’s grocery stores were the site of consumer protests, as part of a national week of action organized by Greenpeace and the GE-Free Markets Coalition. Protesters at more than 60 Safeway stores across the country called for the supermarket giant to eliminate GE foods from its private label brands.

Shaw’s is owned by Sainsbury, a British supermarket chain that eliminated GE ingredients from its store brands nearly three years ago. Shaw’s claims that consumer attitudes in Europe are different than in the U.S., but more than fifteen recent polls show that Americans are equally concerned about GE food. An ABC News poll last year found that 93% of Americans want labeling, while 65% said they believe that GE foods are not safe, or were unsure about their safety.

Before it eliminates GE ingredients from its products, Shaw’s argues that the company needs a mandate from the Food and Drug Administration to do so. However, European supermarkets, including Sainsbury’s, announced they would eliminate GE ingredients even in the absence of government mandate or regulations. Nearly three years ago, two other major U.S. supermarket chains, Whole Foods and Wild Oats, decided to eliminate GE ingredients from their store brands.

“Trader Joe’s didn’t pass the buck to faceless government bureaucrats and, instead, proactively removed GE ingredients in response to customer demands,” said Greenpeace’s Whitehead. “Americans want more widely available safe, non-GE food, and not more excuses from stores like Shaw’s and Safeway about why that’s not possible.”

Return to the January/February Index page