What’s up with the Media Response to Chipotle going GMO-Free?

A notice on the side panel of my box of Cheerios™ says “Not made with genetically modified ingredients.” But when General Mills, the company that manufactures this “Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal,” decided to make this one product in its product line without ingredients from genetically engineered (GE) organisms (AKA GMOs), I don’t recall it coming under the kind of flak that Chipotle is enduring now.

Chipotle, it seems to me, is being very transparent about what it is doing and why. For example, Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told Business Insider:

“Over the years, we have come to believe that the limited number of GMOs that were in our food were not making our food better or providing benefits to the farmers and other suppliers involved in producing our ingredients. We also found that switching to non-GMO alternatives in these cases was less expensive than initially predicted. We started this effort focused on the ingredients we use to make our food [my emphasis] simply because that is where our ability to affect change is most immediate.”

Sounds like a pretty all-American idea to me…affect change via your business practices and, ultimately, your pocketbook. I fully support the right of the owners of Chipotle to do so.

And because it would be downright unreasonable to expect Chipotle to take on Big Soda all by itself, it doesn’t bother me that Chipotle sodas still contain GMO ingredients either. To affect change you have to start somewhere, and Chipotle and General Mills have done just that.

What does bother me is that Dan Charles brought “meat” into this discussion about eliminating GMO ingredients.

As already mentioned, Chipotle’s current effort is focused on the ingredients used to make their food; and at this time there are no GMO “meat” ingredients in any commercialized food products, at Chipotle or anywhere else.

Chipotle couldn’t serve GMO pork or GMO chicken or GMO beef even if it wanted to.

I want to be very clear about this: THERE ARE CURRENTLY NO COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE GE PIGS or GE CHICKENS or GE COWS anywhere on the planet that could serve as sources of GMO “meat” ingredients. (The GE animal closest to “market” in the AquaBounty salmon.)

So maybe Chipotle will someday expand its focus to include the GMO ingredients fed to the “ingredients” used to make their food. But that’s not the company’s current focus.

You have to start somewhere.

Chipotle has started with an effort to remove GMO ingredients from its food products.

General Mills did the same for Cheerios.

Maybe this is the start of something big.

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