Chipotle, a company known for making oversized burritos and publishing literary fiction on items of trash, announced today that it has stopped serving food made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Oh hooray, yet another victory for misinformation.
There is a broad scientific consensus that genetic modification is a safe and likely necessary technology for feeding the world’s growing population. But lots of organic-minded people are still unwilling to accept the stance. Sure, Chipotle is giving people a choice here, but it’s also capitulating to the idea there is something fundamentally wrong with GMOs—while burnishing its own corporate image.
Here’s why Chipotle’s move especially smells like pandering BS. For the past couple of years, Chipotle has been getting its suppliers to get rid of GM corn and soybean. Today’s “GMO-free” announcement comes as Chipotle has switched over to non-GMO corn and soybean oil, but it still serves chicken and pork from animals raised on GMO feed. (Its beef comes from pasture-fed cows.) A good chunk of the GM corn and soybeans grown in America actually goes to feed livestock, so a truly principled stance against GMOs should cut out meat from GM-fed animals, too.
Any guesses why Chipotle hasn’t stopped serving GMO-fed chicken and pork? Because it’s not economical to do so. What is good for business, though? Declaring yourself GMO-free for publicity points.
Photoillustration by Andrew Liszewski. DNA image: bahri altay/shutterstock