Chipotle’s Misguided Anti-GMO Push

Posted by in Lessons Learned

GMO soybeansThe restaurant chain, Chipotle’s, did something that no other chain has done in the United States. It eliminated genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from its menu.

Unfortunately, it’s a move based on misinformation and pseudoscience. It is, in fact, a step backward with serious implications for the people who would be hurt most.

GMOs Are Safe

The crusade against GMOs is based on several fallacies, driven by some clever spins. One of the main fallacies is a version of the argument from ignorance. In this case, the anti-GMO message that GMOs are harmful is true because science cannot prove it is false.

Well, where to start? First, this fallacy shows a failure to understand what science is. Science does not prove things. Rather it explains the observed evidence. And this is exactly what it has done. By reviewing decades of research and evidence, the conclusion is that there is no evidence to suggest that GMOs are a danger. As the 2001 FAO/WHO report states:

“The presence of foreign DNA sequences in food per se poses no intrinsic risk to human health.”

And it’s not just the WHO stating this fact. It is also the opinion of the Royal Society for Medicine, the US National Academy of Sciences, and the American Medical Association. And I ask, are you going to believe quacks like the Food Babe or these organizations? I have my money on the former.

Why Does the Anti-GMO Message Persist?

The anti-GMO message is pseudoscience and not based on scientific evidence. It’s nothing short of quackery. But if that’s true, why are we bombarded with this misinformation?

A recent study from Belgium might offer some insight. The anti-GMO movement use three tactics that play on human reasoning. You’ll probably recognize the messages. They tend to fall into one of three categories.

  • Essentialism, the idea that an organism/plant has certain attributes that shouldn’t be altered
  • Teleological argument, the idea that this technology plays God
  • Disgust, the idea that this technology contaminates organisms/plants

As you can surmise, it’s an insidious way to hold up a lie. In the meantime, GMOs offer solutions for reducing food waste. They offer ways to improve the nutritional value of foods. They offer ways to keep food affordable by making the plants more resistant to pests and environmental pressures.

It’s sad. It’s unconscionable that a lie stands in the way of food sustainability and security. And Chipotle’s feeds the lie with not a shred of sound scientific evidence to back their actions. And for what? Chris DR

photo credit: High Oleic Soybeans via photopin (license)