Chipotle is trying to reduce the number of menu items that contain genetically modified ingredients and the restaurant chain has begun substituting a non-GMO sunflower oil for the soybean oil the chain fries its chips, chicken and vegetables in.
Earlier this year, Chipotle jumped into the debate over genetically engineered foods, becoming the first U.S. company to post labels on its website to let customers know which of its menu items contained GMO ingredients.
“We decided last fall that this was something that really mattered to us,” Chris Arnold, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Director of Communications, told the Daily News. “We don’t have a timeline to become GMO-free, but it is something that is very much in our crosshairs.”
The Ingredients Statement page on Chipotle’s website includes information about GMOs. The site says that the World Health Organization defines Genetically Modified Organisms as “organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.”
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The site also indicates that their goal is to eliminate GMOs from Chipotle’s ingredients and they’re working hard to meet this challenge.
“We’ve heard from customers who are surprised to see that there are any GMOs in our food,” Arnold said, “but the truth is they are enormously difficult to avoid in this country.”
In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, 93 percent of the soybeans grown in America, and 85 percent of the corn comes from genetically modified seed, reports the Daily News.
While the USDA approved a voluntary labeling system for some GMO foods, the industry remains staunchly opposed to labels.
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GMO seed producers like Monsanto are quick to point out that there is scant scientific evidence showing that genetically engineered foods are harmful to human health, but bills to force manufacturers to label GMO ingredients are cropping up across the country.
Chipotle threw its support behind California’s proposition 37, a defeated 2012 voter initiative that would have mandated that genetically engineered foods be labeled.
“We decided that in the absence of a clear consensus we are going to try and find ways to reduce GMOs in our food,” Arnold said.