Will Whole Foods Market Sell GMOs in 10 Years?

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A potential longer-term problem arises when you consider that consumers looking for environmentally friendly food may soon be able to look beyond the organic food industry altogether. After all, the current USDA definition is immediately challenged by the growing field of synthetic biology , which will soon produce the exact same -- or enhanced -- food ingredients without the need for inefficient, land-hogging agricultural production systems. What better promotes resource cycling and biodiversity than reducing the number of farms?

Streamlined industrial fermentation processes powered by biology (similar to brewing) will yield food ingredients such as cocoa , vanilla flavoring, milk , sugar, and more in several weeks' time -- making the phrase "annual harvest" a relic of the past. How? Time, land, and energy will be saved by reducing the complexity of the biological production systems (plants and cows). The same building blocks of life-powering plants and cows will be transferred to microorganisms with the sole purpose of creating the products we want. Think about it: Yeast and bacteria don't need to exert energy (or a minimal amount at most) to power a brain, moderate body temperature, maintain an immune system, grow limbs and stems, or a host of other functions that aren't directly related to the food ingredient you crave.

Better yet, there will be no need for pesticides, massive quantities of water, or petroleum fuels to power tractors. Imagine that.

What's the solution?

The USDA Organic Seal promotes sustainable and ecologically beneficial production practices, but prohibits uses of genetic engineering that do the same. It may not be that unrealistic to expect an amendment to that definition in the long term, although it's much more realistic to expect a shift in marketing strategies for Whole Foods Market and WhiteWave Foods in the short term. You may think it's impossible today, but selling responsibly produced GMOs may be one of the best business decisions either company can make for investors, consumers, and the environment.

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The article Will Whole Foods Market Sell GMOs in 10 Years? originally appeared on

John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Check out hispersonal portfolio,CAPS page,previous writing for The Motley Fool, or his work forSynBioBeta to keep up with developments in the synthetic biology industry.Maxx Chatsko has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends WhiteWave Foods and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool owns shares of WhiteWave Foods and Whole Foods Market. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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