In defense of Chipotle: GMOs may be safe to eat but they aren’t safe to grow

chipotle burrito
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Critics of Chipotle’s new GMO-free menu claim the restaurant chain is pandering to paranoia and that GM foods are perfectly safe to eat. But they’re ignoring the bigger issue.

Last week, Chipotle — the Mexican fast-food chain that has earned (well-deserved) praise for its commitment to sourcing sustainable ingredients — made a big announcement. Effective immediately, the company said, diners could rest assured that none of what has gone into their chicken tacos or veggie bowls has come from a genetically modified organism (GMO).

If executives had expected praise for the decision, they were in for a surprise. Within days, major media outlets were heaping on the cynicism like burrito toppings.

The backlash seems to mark a conventional-wisdom turning point in the public controversy over GMOs. Twenty years ago, many of these same media outlets were expressing genuine concern at the idea of Big Agriculture tinkering with the DNA of our biggest commodity crops. The science wasn’t in yet, they warned; and until it was, we couldn’t simply assume there were no long-term health risks attached to the eating of GMOs.

But today — a dozen years and a number of well-publicized studies later — the mainstream media’s new line would appear to be: Stop whining and eat your engineered vegetables.

But once consumers are made aware of all the implications, many are chastened to discover something that environmental scientists like myself have been stressing for years: Just because genetically modified crops have been deemed safe to ingest doesn’t make them safe to grow.

There are other, time-tested ways to win the battle against weeds that don’t require us to wage perpetual, ever-escalating chemical warfare against nature. By declaring themselves conscientious objectors, Chipotle’s executives aren’t ignoring science. But those who would define the word “safe” in only the narrowest personal sense of the word might fairly be accused of it.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Tortilla Reform

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