Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) is encouraging Washington State voters to support I-522 (Initiative Measure No. 522), also known as “the genetically engineered foods labeling initiative,” which will appear on voter ballots there during the Nov. 5 elections. If passed, I-522 would ensure all genetically engineered foods in Washington State are labeled to inform consumers.
“We are changing the way people think about and eat fast food, and a big part of that is understanding where our food comes from and how it is raised or grown,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle.
Chipotle’s support for I-522 and its commitment to move away from GMO ingredients is underscored by its effort to be transparent about its existing GMO ingredients. In March 2013, Chipotle became the first national restaurant company to label its GMO ingredients.
I-522 draws support from farmers, fishing families, health professionals, parents, business owners and consumer advocates who believe that Washington shoppers should have the right to know what is in their food. I-522 would require labeling on raw or unprocessed food offered for sale to consumers if made from genetically altered plants or animals.
A genetically engineered food is a plant or meat product that has had its DNA artificially altered in a laboratory by genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria in order to produce foreign compounds in that food. This type of genetic alteration is not found in nature and still considered experimental.
Scientists are currently debating whether GMO foods are safe to eat and safe for the environment. Already, 64 countries – including the European Union, Japan, China, and Australia – require labeling of genetically modified foods. In some parts of Europe and Japan, planting GMO crops is banned entirely.
“While we are disclosing GMO ingredients in our food without a measure like I-522, this initiative will give people in Washington the opportunity to make an informed choice not just at Chipotle, but in terms of all of the food they eat,” said Ells. “Ultimately, we think people have the right to know what’s in their food.”