Organic foods, by definition, can't knowingly contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, but modified corn, soy and other crops are now such common ingredients in processed foods that Whole Foods, one of the nation's top organic food retailers, says it hasn't been able to avoid stocking some products that contain them, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.
Genetically modified crops make up 93 percent of all soy, 86 percent of all corn and 93 percent of all canola seeds planted in the United States and are used in an estimated 70 percent of all American processed food, the newspaper reported.
That makes stocking only non-GMO products difficult, said Joe Dickson, quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods Market.
"Until there's federal government mandated labeling of GMO ingredients, there's no way to tell if packaged products contain GMO ingredients," Dickson said. "Our approach is to work in the spirit of partnership with our suppliers … to encourage them to take active steps to avoid GMO ingredients."
Consumer activists say products containing genetically modified ingredients should be tested for safety and should be labeled as containing GMOs.
The United States is one of the few industrialized nations that do not require such labeling or testing, the Tribune reported.