Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Chipotle's Junk Science on Gmos

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Chipotle's Junk Science on Gmos

Article excerpt

Chipotle's announcement last week that safety compelled it to remove all genetically modified organisms from its food is rooted either in ignorance or in crass profit-seeking at the expense of science. More than two decades of research indicate that GMOs are not only safe for humans and the environment, but also contribute to global sustainability and poverty alleviation.

On Monday, Chipotle's website blared that "cultivation of GMOs can damage the environment" and that most studies of GMO safety were paid for by self-interested companies pedaling GMO seeds. Also on Monday, Chief Executive Steve Ells claimed, "It's clear that a lot of research is still needed before we can truly understand all of the implications of widespread GMO cultivation and consumption."

A host of scientific and medical organizations, however, disagree. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration - charged specifically with ensuring our food safety - the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the European Commission, the U.S. National Academies of Science and the American Medical Association are just a few that have declared GMOs safe.

In 2003, the International Council for Science, a nongovernmental body representing more than 100 national science academies and dozens of international scientific unions, reviewed 50 independent and authoritative studies. It concluded that the GMOs Chipotle banned this week "are safe to eat." Period.

In the intervening 12 years, GMOs have been planted on nearly 4 billion acres of land in more than two dozen countries, bringing the total acreage devoted to GMOs to 5 billion. And still no credible evidence of human health risks has emerged.

Chipotle probably is responding to market forces. Polling indicates that Americans are wary of GMOs: Only about a third believe genetically modified foods are safe to eat, and nearly 60 percent say they'd be less likely to buy foods labeled as genetically modified.

But in misrepresenting the science surrounding a poorly understood innovation, Chipotle joins the too-populous ranks of companies that endeavor to deceive the public. …

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