Upon arriving at your local Chipotle, you may notice the words “G-M-Over It!” or “First national restaurant to cook with only non-GMO ingredients” proudly displayed throughout the store. Chipotle’s denouncement of GMOs has definitely ignited some questions among customers, myself included.

guacamole, salsa, tomato, avocado, pepper, salad, vegetable
Photo courtesy of @Paige B. on Yelp

First, what are GMOs? The acronym itself sounds toxic and unhealthy, and the full name is even worse. Genetically modified organisms are plants and animals whose genes have been altered by scientific means. Personally, I don’t find this term to be particularly appealing, but after further research I've realized there are two major viewpoints to take into consideration. 

There are several controversies associated with genetically modified organisms. Some people assert that GMOs are downright unhealthy. Others argue that GMOs are too enigmatic, and thus not trustworthy. Still others believe that GMOs are unethical because they are produced by large biotech companies who negatively influence small farmers. 

Photo courtesy of coconut bliss.com

Proponents of GMOs, particularly the biotech companies, are flabbergasted by organizations such as the Non-GMO Project. They argue that GMOs are created to benefit people from all walks of life: farmers, the hungry, and everyday consumers. Farmers can utilize drought-resistant and insect-repellent GMOs, eliminating the major risks involved with agriculture. 

Because organisms can be modified to withstand conditions that are not typically suitable for farming, GMOs are often considered to be a potential agent in ending world hunger. And everyday consumers can enjoy the nutrient-rich GMO, Golden Rice, which has been modified to contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant that benefits your hair and skin.
beer, coffee, tea
Photo courtesy of Julia Kelly

Food companies are being strongly encouraged to publicize their use of GMOs, so that consumers can make conscious and informed decisions of what is entering their body. Just as dieters can choose to eat a carb-free or gluten-free diet, they should also have the freedom, if they so choose, to eat a GMO-free diet.

But, I must warn you: Around 80% of processed foods are genetically modified, so good luck satisfying your late night sweet tooth with a GMO-free diet that is–in the opinion of most experts–a futile way to try to be healthier anyways.