Chipotle says it's "G-M-Over it."
The burrito giant responded to growing consumer pressure today, announcing that all genetically modified foods have been booted from the menu.
GMOs weren't lurking in many ingredients to begin with—only genetically modified corn and soy had to be eliminated. Both were used in the chain's tortillas, and the cooking oil also contained genetically modified soy. But the chain prides itself on transparency, and with this decision, it became the first national restaurant chain to cut GMOs out of its menu.
Longtime fans likely won't be surprised—the company has been committed to high ethical standards since its launch in 1993. In 2013, they became the first large chain to label genetically modified ingredients in its food. More recently, carnitas were dropped from the menu because a supplier didn't meet their standards for humane treatment of animals.
The company noted several popular arguments against GMOs—the lack of research into the longterm health effects and the environmental impact of increased pesticide use—as reasons to ditch the modified foods.
But why go GMO now? For one thing, consumers are starting to pay attention.
According to Consumer Reports, diners are willing to shell out for higher quality food than ever before. Fast casual chains like Chipotle that put emphasis on responsibly sourced, high-quality ingredients are edging out traditional fast food options like McDonalds.
A few food justice activists including Vani Hari have also called out Chipotle in the past for refusing to share its ingredient list. Of course, since Hari's investigation, Chipotle has changed its policy to publicly post all of its ingredients.
GMOs have also been in the political spotlight recently. Ballot measures that would have required genetically modified foods to be labeled in both Oregon and Colorado got a lot of attention, but failed at the polls last November. (Californians tried to pass a similar measure in 2012 to no avail.)
Even though politicians haven't been able to force companies to label GMO ingredients yet, there are other ways to figure out whether your food has been genetically modified.
Some retailers—including Thrive Market—have already committed to carrying only Non-GMO foods. The nonprofit Non-GMO Project verifies non-GMO foods—customers just have to look out for their seal of approval. And, all USDA-certified organic foods are non-GMO by definition.
Photo credit: Mr.TinDC via Flickr