Editor’s note: This article was written at the request of USA Today, which published it as an “opposing view” on May 17, 2015. USA Today took the same position as most of the rest of the corporate media, which is that by providing a product that consumers want, the restaurant chain is “pandering to ignorance.”
Since when does the mainstream media, in a country that worships at the altar of capitalism and the free market, launch a coordinated attack against a company for selling a product consumers want?
When that company dares to cross the powerful biotech industry. How else to explain the unprecedented negative coverage aimed at Chipotle’s, merely because the successful restaurant chain will eliminate GMO foods from its menu?
The biotech industry has a long history of discrediting scientists who challenge the safety of GMOs. That intimidation campaign worked well, until consumers themselves connected the dots between GMO foods (and the toxic chemicals used to grow them), and health concerns. Once consumers demanded labels on GMO foods, the biotech industry responded with a multi-million dollar PR campaign. Yet despite spending millions to influence the media, and millions more to prevent laws requiring labels on products the industry claims are safe, Monsanto has lost the hearts and minds of consumers. Latest polls show that 93 percent of Americans support mandatory labeling of GMO foods.
Chipotle has made a sound business decision. That decision has forced the biotech industry to stoop to a new low: vilifying businesses. Sadly, the mainstream media appears all too happy (manipulated?) to go along with the attack.
Only in the U.S. does the biotech industry wield such power. That power is arguably having a negative effect on the free market here. Take McDonalds. In the U.S., the fast-food chain is in trouble. Yet in the UK (and other countries), where McDonald’s is GMO-free, the chain is profitable.
In March, World Health Organization cancer researchers concluded that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is a “probable” carcinogen. In 1985, EPA scientists drew the same conclusion. According to hundreds of scientists worldwide, there is no consensus on the safety of GMO foods.
A growing number of consumers don’t want GMO foods. Chipotle is responding to that demand.
Biotech’s attack on Chipotle is an act of desperation. Mainstream media’s complicity is a failure of the institution of journalism.
Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association.