May 12, 2015

Chipotle’s Bold Move to GMO Free…But Will it Last?


clip_image002Two weeks ago, Chipotle took its propaganda filled marketing campaign to a troubling new level when it announced that its entire menu will be GMO-free—meaning nothing served at its fast-food restaurant chains will contain ingredients derived from genetically modified plants or animals. According to their website, the company is “G-M-Over It” and has decided that serving GMO’s in their restaurants does not align with their vision of “food with integrity.”

Even though Chipotle’s GMO stance opposes the best scientific knowledge in the world, the company has taken a bold stance that GMO’s are unsafe and have long-term implications that consumers should be concerned about. But what scientific evidence supports these claims? According to a 2014 report by the World Resources Institute, GMO-derived foods have been widely consumed for years and “there is no evidence that GM crops have actually harmed human health.”

The bottom line…this GMO-free campaign has satisfied some of Chipotle’s most loyal and health-conscious guacamole fans, however, it has missed a huge opportunity to ethically educate American’s about where their food comes from.

So was Chipotle’s declaration to be “G-M-Over It” a good choice? Will this marketing hype last? Will consumers actually fall for their unethical propaganda? In a recent article on NPR, writer Dan Charles entertains “why we can’t take chipotle’s GMO announcement all that seriously” with five rational points that every consumer should be aware of. We highlighted a few below…

1. Soda

At the bottom of the page that announces Chipotle’s new policy, you’ll find the following statement: "Many of the beverages sold in our restaurants contain genetically modified ingredients, including those containing corn syrup, which is almost always made from GMO corn."

Looks like the fast-food giant is making quite the exception to its GMO-free policy when it comes to sugary drinks.

2. The "superweed" double standard


As an example of the ways that GMOs can damage the environment, Chipotle points to the problems caused by herbicide-tolerant GMO crops and how they encourage farmers to use a single herbicide, usually glyphosate, or Roundup. This, in turn, has led to the emergence of herbicide-resistant weeds, which Chipotle calls "superweeds." Chipotle's answer to this, per its new non-GMO policy, is to switch from soybean oil to sunflower oil.

The problem is, many sunflower varieties, while not genetically modified, also are herbicide-tolerant. They were bred to tolerate a class of herbicides called ALS inhibitors. And since farmers starting relying on those herbicides, many weeds have evolved resistance to them. In fact, many more weeds have become resistant to ALS inhibitors than to glyphosate.

Why should Chipotle bemoan the emergence of weeds that are resistant to glyphosate, yet not to other weedkillers?

3. Meat

Chipotle says it wasn't too difficult or expensive to remove GMO ingredients from its burritos. It simply had to find new suppliers for corn flour and cooking oil.

It would be much harder, and presumably more expensive, to use only meat from pigs or chickens that consumed a non-GMO diet. That's because the amount of corn or soybeans required to feed Chipotle's animals is vastly larger than what's needed for its tortillas or cooking oil. Finding a new supply of animal feed would raise costs, so Chipotle isn't doing it.

To view the full NPR article, click here.

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