Let’s be clear: I enjoy eating Chipotle burritos as much as anyone. Hell, I even spring for the added guacamole. But I think Chipotle needs to be called out on its recent pseudoscience shenanigans.
Most of these shenanigans revolve around genetically modified organisms, often called GMOs. GMOs are plants or animals that have undergone a process wherein scientists alter their genes with DNA from different species of living organisms, bacteria, or viruses to get desired traits.
In an announcement titled “G-M-Over It”, Chipotle announced that it was eliminating genetically modified ingredients because:
- Scientists are still studying the long term health impacts
- The cultivation of GMOs can hurt the environment
- Chipotle should be a place where people can eat food with non-GMO ingredients
It’s bullshit and here’s why.
If Chipotle is concerned about the scientifically-proven health impacts of it’s ingredients, look no further than sugar, simple carbohydrates or salt. Unlike GMOs, the science on these ingredients is very, very clear. From heart disease to reproductive issues to weight gain and obesity, these ingredients have very real and very negative consequences on overall health; when it comes to health, GMOs are the least of Chipotle’s concerns.
In terms of the environment, GMOs can have a negative impact in that they can result in herbicide-resistant superweeds. While this may be true, proponents of GMOs note that they’ve allowed farmers to grow more food with fewer resources. GMOs have resulted in drought and cold-resistant plants that have become essential for feeding the planet’s growing population.
Chipotle’s third and final reason to eliminate GMOs isn’t a reason at all. It’s just circular logic. Why should Chipotle eliminate GMO ingredients? Because Chipotle should be a place where people can eat food with non-GMO ingredients, of course. And in the effort to eliminate GMOs, Chipotle has failed. As Chipotle notes on their website, “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.” Oops. And then there’s the meat. Because it’s harder and more difficult to find meat raised from non-GMO feed, Chipotle isn’t doing it.
While it’s totally reasonable to have a discussion about GMOs and their place in our food supply, Chipotle’s recent announcement is nothing more than a distraction from the more obvious truth. And that is, of course, that Chipotle’s menu is mostly unhealthy and over portioned.
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