Chipotle announces achievement of its “non-GM” goal and now seeks to eliminate additives.

  • Genetically modified (GM) foods and food additives have been the subject of significant media attention in recent months, with topics ranging from newly-developed GM crops, to high-profile removals of specific additives by major food brands, to Vermont’s GM labeling law, to debates about the scientific consensus regarding the safety of consuming GM foods and additives generally.
  • In April 2015, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced that it will only serve food made with only non-GM ingredients, with caveats that meat and dairy products may come from animals that consume GM grain and that many beverages (e.g., soda) contain GM ingredients (e.g., corn syrup, virtually always sourced from GM corn).  The company now seeks to eliminate all remaining additives in its food (e.g., dough conditioners in the tortillas).
  • Chipotle’s announcement has been getting significant media coverage and raises questions about how the food industry should balance perceived consumer desires for “GM-free” and “additive-free” food with the fact that there is no scientific basis to seek the elimination of these substances from the food supply.  It remains to be seen which way the pendulum will swing.  Toward the elimination of safe and beneficial components from the food supply, potentially causing a scarcity of certain types of food and driving up costs?  Or toward informing consumers about the safety, acceptability, and benefits of GM foods that are engineered to resist pesticides and spoilage and additives intended to food promote safety and quality?