Mainstream Media Misleads Public On Chipotle Non-GMO Campaign
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|Everybody from NPR to USA Today is reporting on fast food chain Chipotle finally making their entire menu GMO-free. |
What they're not telling you is the REAL REASON Chipotle is not supporting GMO foods...
Even the so-called "liberal media" of NPR, along with everybody else is framing Chipotle's rejection of GMO food as a "safety issue", unfortunately nobody wants to quote the relevant public statements made by the company that contradict the media outlets' implications.
The objection to GMO food is not mainly about food safety. This is the strawman.
A few years ago the people of California tried to pass Proposition 37 - an initiative to require labeling of GMO food products. Chipotle was among the groups in support of this grass-roots, common-sense law. But big industry spent more than $44 Million dollars to cause the initiative to fail.
Among other things, the failure of this initiative suggests that the public doesn't have a right to know what's in the food they consume. Chipotle and others disagreed, and thus began their quest to source all their products as non-GMO.
It's not just about health issues, which contrary to what the mainstream media implies, those results are NOT definitively in - the majority of reputable scientists on this front agree there needs to be more study. Nobody in this arena is running around saying GMO foods are deadly - they're just want to ask more questions and get more answers. It's industry suggesting anyone who questions their, "it's totally safe" claim, are anti-science conspiracy nuts. Which is an unfair characterization.
But we here at BSAlert want to add more to the issue. This isn't really just about whether GMO food is safe, and "safety" doesn't simply mean "to eat" -- it means...
- Is it safe for the environment? - Is using specially-designed crops that can be slathered in insecticides that are extremely toxic to almost all other life forms a better way of doing things?
- Do people have a right to know what's in their food? - The GMO industries say "NO!"
- Is it good for agriculture? - With companies like Monsanto patenting forms of life, seeds and plants, and forcing farmers to purchase seed from them instead of cultivating and sowing their own crops good for farmers? Is it acceptable for big agri-companies to bully small farmers in the court system to use their products or go out of business?
- Is it good for the environment and other life forms? - There's been lots of evidence that certain GMO-paired pesticides are linked to the collapse of bee colonies around the world, as well as many other frightening issues.
- Traditional agriculture involves farmers cultivating crops and also getting seeds for subsequent generations & plantings. Companies like Monsanto are genetically-engineering crops that produce STERILE SEEDS so farmers have to re-purchase seeds from Monsanto like a subscription instead of planting the seeds they cultivate from their crops. That's quite a racket that farmers are being forced into. Some people don't think that's the way agriculture should work.
But none of this comes up in mainstream discussion of why people might not want to use GMO products.
It's not just about safety. It's about whether or not people want to subsidize a major change in the industry that has a tremendous number of very-negative side-effects.
Here's what Chipotle says about GMO food:
When it comes to our food, genetically modified ingredients don’t make the cut.
Chipotle is on a never-ending journey to source the highest quality ingredients we can find. Over the years, as we have learned more about GMOs, we’ve decided that using them in our food doesn’t align with that vision. Chipotle was the first national restaurant company to disclose the GMO ingredients in our food, and now we are the first to cook only with non-GMO ingredients.
WHAT IS A GMO?
A GMO is created by inserting genes from one species (typically bacteria or a virus) into the DNA of another. This can result in a plant with characteristics that wouldn’t occur naturally, such as producing pesticides or the ability to withstand high doses of chemical herbicides.
Not all GMOs are designed in the same way. Crops can be engineered to do a number of different things. The traits that cause the most concern to agricultural, environmental, and medical experts are:
1. Herbicide Resistance: Plants engineered to survive applications of glyphosate, a chemical that would otherwise kill them.
2. Pesticide Production: Plants engineered to produce insecticidal toxins.
Why did we remove GMOs from our food?
One reason customers love Chipotle is that we use great ingredients. For us this means great taste, but it also means that the food we serve should be made with ingredients raised with care for animals, farmers, and the environment. We’re doubtful that the GMO ingredients that used to be in our food meet these criteria. Here are the three key reasons.
1. Scientists are still studying the long term implications of GMOs
The manufacturers of GMO seeds claim that GMOs are widely considered to be safe, but we don’t believe the scientific community has reached a consensus on the long-term implications of widespread GMO cultivation and consumption. For example, in October 2013 a group of about 300 scientists from around the world signed a statement rejecting the claim that there is a scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs for human consumption. These scientists would like to see more research conducted, and they’d like more of the research to be conducted by independent third parties, not the companies marketing GMO crops themselves. Until such studies are conducted, we believe it is prudent to take a cautious approach toward GMOs.
2. The cultivation of GMOs can damage the environment
The companies that sell GMO seeds claim that certain genetically modified crops are better for the environment because they reduce the amount of pesticides and herbicides used in farming. But this has not been shown to be the case. One recent study by researchers at Washington State University estimated that between 1996 and 2011, pesticide and herbicide use increased by more than 400 million pounds as a result of GMO cultivation. This and other evidence suggests that GMO crops are fueling an escalating arms race with weeds and insects.
3. Chipotle should be a place where people can eat food made with non-GMO ingredients
For the last 21 years, Chipotle has been making high-quality whole ingredients prepared using classic cooking techniques accessible to all. To that end, we want our customers to have access to ingredients that have not been genetically modified.
We believe everyone should be given enough information about where their food comes from and how it was raised to choose for themselves what they feed their families. We hope these principles of transparency and honesty extend beyond consumers to everyone who has a stake in the food system, and Chipotle respects the right of every farmer, rancher and grower to follow practices that make sense for their business, even if they do not make sense for ours.
Which ingredients in Chipotle's food was previously genetically-modified?
93% of corn grown in the U.S. in 2014 was genetically modified. This includes 76% of corn that is both herbicide resistant and pesticide producing, with the remainder engineered for only one of those traits. 94% of the soy grown in the U.S. in 2014 was engineered for glyphosate resistance.
The World Health Organization recently designated Glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. The use of glyphosate is extremely widespread. More than 9% of the landmass of the continental United States is planted with crops genetically modified for glyphosate resistance. Given the concerns surrounding these types of GMOs and the chemicals associated with them, we felt it was particularly important to seek out non-GMO ingredients when possible.
All corn-based ingredients in Chipotle’s food that formerly may have been genetically modified have been removed or replaced with non-GMO versions, while all soy-derived ingredients that may have been genetically modified were replaced with alternatives, such as rice bran oil and sunflower oil. The white sweet corn in Chipotle’s roasted chili-corn salsa has always been a non-GMO variety. The organic soybeans used to make the tofu for our Sofritas are not genetically modified, like all certified organic ingredients.