Not everyone is happy about Chipotle’s recent decision to ditch GMOs, or genetically modified ingredients, in most of its food.
So why’d they do it?
According to Slate’s Alison Griswold, Chipotle is simply trying to capitalise on popular anti-GMO sentiment.
Despite the scientific consensus on their safety, most Americans remain extremely wary of GMOs. According to a January study by the Pew Research Center, 67% of people in the US think scientists simply do not have enough long-term research to conclusively determine the safety of genetically modified foods.
“[Chipotle is] positioning themselves as the good guys, but they’re actually exploiting people’s lack of sophistication about these issues and perpetuating pseudoscience,” Jon Entine, a senior fellow at the University of California at Davis World Food Center, told the Daily Beast.
For its part, Chipotle says public opinion did not motivate its decision to cut back on GMOs.
Instead, the company says it is sceptical of the existing research, Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told Business Insider. Arnold said Chipotle is avoiding GMOs because most studies have not convinced the company of their long-term safety.
“We are not alone in our scepticism on the current body of research on GMOs, much of which is short-term in nature and supported by the industry,” said Arnold. “That, in part, has led us to take a more cautious approach.”
On Tuesday, Chipotle CEO Steve Ells acknowledged similar beliefs about the ingredients.
“They say these ingredients are safe, but I think we all know we’d rather have food that doesn’t contain them,” Ells told CNN Money earlier this week.
The company still hasn’t eliminated GMOs entirely, however, mainly because of cost, said Arnold.
For example, Chipotle is still serving poultry and pork raised on GMO ingredients and soda containing corn syrup made with with GMOs, Gizmodo reports. The company is testing cane-sugar-based sodas and has said it would like to cut GMO-fed meat, but it’s still concerned about keeping prices low.
“Given the prevalence of GMO crops, it would be nearly impossible to source meat from animals that were given solely non-GMO feed short of buying organic meat or meat that is purely grass-fed,” Arnold said. Both of these options would be prohibitively expensive, said Arnold.
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