Recently, the $21.4 billion corporation Whole Foods Market sided with activists like Joseph Mercola (“winner” of multiple F.D.A. warning letters for questionable marketing of his “health” products) and announced that it would label genetically improved foods and stop selling certain yogurts based on unfounded “GMO” fears. It was disappointing, but hardly unexpected for a chain that has ties to other discredited activists like the Humane Society of the United States, which only gives one percent of its budget to local pet shelters.
This weekend, a writer for The Daily Beast, Michael Schulson, took the hippies-for-fun-and-profit to the well-deserved woodshed. Declaring the grocer “America’s Temple of Pseudoscience,” Schulson indicts the anti-science ideology promoted by the store and its wares:
[A] significant portion of what Whole Foods sells is based on simple pseudoscience. And sometimes that can spill over into outright anti-science (think What Doctors Don’t Tell You, or Whole Foods’ overblown GMO campaign, which could merit its own article). If scientific accuracy in the public sphere is your jam, is there really that much of a difference between Creation Museum founder Ken Ham, who seems to have made a career marketing pseudoscience about the origins of the world, and John Mackey, a founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, who seems to have made a career, in part, out of marketing pseudoscience about health?
Ouch. While the comparison to the Creation Museum, a religious group that denies well-established scientific consensus on the age of the Earth, will sting Whole Foods’s upper-income (a derisive nickname for the chain is “Whole Paycheck”) liberal clientele, it is well-deserved. To choose just the closest relation to the Creation Museum’s ideology, Whole Foods sells—and follows the GMO-labeling policy of—Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, notorious for the New Age religious rants of its asylum-escapee founder that grace its product labels and the hundreds of thousands of dollars the company has spent in efforts to label GMOs.
Whole Foods’s pandering campaign against genetically improved foods (GIF) denies scientific consensus that GIFs are as safe as their conventional and organic counterparts, just as the Creation Museum denies science on the Earth’s age. More take-downs like Schulson’s might convince its otherwise pro-science clientele to get educated and reject the pandering of Big Organic’s anti-GIF crusade.