“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,” reads a statement on the Chipotle website, citing a call from 300 scientists for more independent research (i.e., not funded by companies that sell GMO seeds) to prove that these food items are safe for human consumption. “Until such studies are conducted, we believe it is prudent to take a cautious approach toward GMOs.”
Company founder and co-CEO Steve Ells tells the NY Times that not using GMOs is more about using the best available ingredients.
“This is another step toward the visions we have of changing the way people think about and eat fast food,” explained Ells. “Just because food is served fast doesn’t mean it has to be made with cheap raw ingredients, highly processed with preservatives and fillers and stabilizers and artificial colors and flavors.”
According to Ells, Chipotle is able to make the GMO-free promise because its entire menu only includes 68 ingredients.
“The vast majority of our ingredients don’t come in a G.M.O. variety, and we use lots of whole, unprocessed foods, so it was easier for us to do,” he told the Times.
One of the most difficult parts of the menu to source without GMOs were the flour tortillas used for Chipotle burritos.
“The shortening had an oil in it that was derived from soybeans,” said a rep for Chipotle. “We won’t use lard for tortillas because of our vegan and vegetarian customers, and we can’t use palm oil because of the environmental impact.”
The AP points out that not everything you consume at Chipotle may be GMO-free, as the Coke beverages it sells may include GMO ingredients.