Arizona Rancher Reaches Out to Chipotle and Gets a Response

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau: Advocacy in agriculture might be as simple as writing an email or letter to a company. Case-in-point: Vickie Parks from Coconino County Farm Bureau wrote Chipotle Mexican Grill, with more than 1,800 locations, after they announced their ingredient lists will no longer contain Genetically Modified Ingredients (GMO).

Jim and Vickie Parks. Jim is president of Coconino County Farm Bureau and Vickie is secretary for the County Farm Bureau and Women's Leadership Chair for the County (Picture by Carl Schultz)

And while many of us see this move as disingenuous on Chipotle's part, it’s certainly garnering lots of attention.  

And, surprise surprise, our rancher got a response! Granted, Vickie may not have moved the needle in favor of biotechnology in agriculture, but she did something. That something meant Vickie was able to have a conversation with someone at Chipotle. It is how these things start.

The Rancher’s letter

Sorry you can't move with feeding more people with GMO’s. There is NO evidence GMO’s are bad or not healthy. We must strive to feed more people. Through technological improvements, food is being produced -- more food on less land with less water and pesticide use. Because you succumb to people who don't know what they are talking about based on alarmists, it is disappointing to see you move in the wrong direction. You should be making an effort to educate with the truth.

Vickie Parks

Rancher

Coconino County

Arizona

Response from Chipotle

Vickie,

Thank you for weighing in on our recent announcement. Our Food With Integrity program manager released a statement about this, which I'm including below in response to your concerns: "The issue of genetically modified foods (also known as "Geneticially [sic] Engineered" or "Transgenic" foods) is a complex and controversial one.

We respect the diversity of opinions on the topic, and always encourage our customers to learn as much as possible about where their food comes from and how it is raised. Furthermore, we recognize that Chipotle's is just one among many opinions on this topic, and respect the right of every consumer, farmer, and Food Company to follow practices that make sense for them or their business, even if they do not make sense for ours.

Chipotle's decision to source non-GMO ingredients was first and foremost about our commitment to serving our customers the very best ingredients we can find. There are many ingredients that have been proven safe to eat that we don't have in our food, such as artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors. We don't think these ingredients are necessary to make our food as delicious as possible, but this position does not mean we are anti-science. Over the years, we have come to believe that the limited number of GMOs that were in our food were not making our food more delicious or providing benefits to the farmers and other suppliers involved in producing our ingredients. We also found that switching to non-GMO alternatives in these cases was less expensive than initially predicted. …

Ultimately, we are advocating a more cautious approach, and calling for more transparency and more unbiased research."

Again, thank you for expressing your objections.

Sincerely,

James

Customer Service Consultant

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Perhaps it’s time to reach out a little more to the businesses intimately linked in the food supply chain. This rancher did and she got a response. 

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