Increasing numbers of consumers are concerned about genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in their food. Forget about California’s highly watched and narrow defeat of a GMO right-to-know proposition last fall, a defeat bankrolled by major companies like Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) as well as large consumer brands. Momentum is increasing at the state level, and even the biggest companies don’t have endless resources to fight it.
Connecticut and Maine both recently passed labeling laws after California’s well-known defeat on the contentious GMOs issue. Massachusetts is now contemplating a similar mandate. This is a major, growing problem for many consumer goods companies that are too busy wasting time and money fighting than on making an actual action plan.
Companies that get ahead of these issues and voluntarily acknowledge consumers’ right to know deserve extra kudos. That’s why Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) investors should be proud of the company today. As a shareholder who also bought shares of Chipotle for the Prosocial Portfolio I’m managing for Fool.com, I know I am.
No secret sauce here
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) announced that it’s disclosing which menu items contain genetically modified organisms on its website. Note that it didn’t have to do this on an across-the-board basis, but it’s voluntarily making that choice. Now consumers who want to know can know, and make their own decisions.
The unvarnished truth is that most of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG)’s ingredients do contain GMOs. That’s why its move is even more impressive. This could be easily misinterpreted, but it’s not a sign of any inherent evil on Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG)’s part — it simply underlines a fact about the American food supply that many might consider alarming. Unless a consumer is buying all organic, the cupboard is chock-full of GMOs.
The majority of crucial ingredients for so many foods, such as corn and soybeans, currently are genetically modified to resist pests and otherwise boost yields. The FDA does not deem these crops to be any different from the ones that are not genetically modified, and therefore, it never mandated labeling when GMOs started infiltrating American consumers’ meals.
Although Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG)’s Food With Integrity plan is already admirable given the naturally raised, humane, local, and antibiotic-free ingredients it includes in its lineup as often as it can, those terms aren’t defined as lacking genetic modification. The only guarantee of non-GMO consumption is the term “organic,” and a full, immediate shift to such ingredients on such a large scale would be impossible for big companies at this point in time.