Chipotle Says Goodbye to GMOs

Chipotle to become first major restaurant chain to take GMOs off the menu

After opting to label which of its foods included genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in 2013, Chipotle recently announced that it's doing away with the controversial ingredients altogether.

"This is another step toward the visions we have of changing the way people think about and eat fast food," said Chipotle Founder and Co-Chief Executive Steve Ells, via The New York Times. "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."

The Mexican food chain becomes the first major restaurant to do away with GMOs in the US, but concern over these foods' unknown health effects is nothing new.

As Ells put it in a statement, "There is a lot of debate about genetically modified foods. Though many countries have already restricted or banned the use of GMO crops, it's clear that a lot of research is still needed ... While that debate continues, we decided to move on non-GMO ingredients."

It's a pioneering decision, but only time will tell whether it persuades others to follow suit. Rebecca Spector, the West Coast director at the Center for Food Safety, described the new policy as "a very big deal."

"They're setting an example for others that GMO-free can be done," she told USA Today.

Generating additional momentum for GMO-free menus might not be easy, though. As of 2014, at least 80 percent of the food consumed in the US contained ingredients with GMOs, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. That was largely due to GMO strains used to produce corn and soybeans in the US, according to USA Today.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to insist that GMOs are perfectly safe. Needless to say, others aren't so sure.

In the context of food, GMOs are plants grown from seeds that have been genetically engineered to better fight certain diseases or resist herbicides, among other reasons.

Grocers like Whole Foods are also working to label or replace foods with GMOs in them.