In recent years, there have been many questions and concerns raised about the safety and possible negative heath effects associated with the consumption of genetically modified organisms. According to the non-GMO Project, while many countries have enacted strict bans on GMO products, GMOs "are in as much as 80 percent of conventional processed food," that is made, marketed and sold in the U.S.
Consequently, opponents of GMOs argue that members of the American public are, often unknowingly, serving as guinea pigs for multi-billion dollar biotech companies which are quick to dismiss any potential health risks associated with these products. Increasingly, U.S. consumers are demanding to know more about the ingredients that not only go into the foods they eat but, in the case of animal-derived foods like milk and meat, the feed given to the animal products that are consumed.
In an effort to meet the growing demands of health-conscious consumers who fear GMOs, several food companies and restaurants have taken steps to seek out and market non-GMO products directly to consumers. One of the largest restaurant chains to participate in the non-GMO movement is the fast-food chain Chipotle.
While Chipotle was one of the first main-stream restaurants to market and sell non-GMO products, a class action lawsuit claims the company intentionally sought to deceive consumers by falsely claiming that its products are GMO-free. The lawsuit alleges that, while labeled as being GMO-free, the company's meat and dairy products actually contain GMOs as the animals from which these products are sourced "consumed genetically modified feed."
Similar claims against Chipotle have been dismissed by other judges, however, a U.S. district judge recently allowed the case of one plaintiff who argues that she "paid a premium for Chipotle fare because she believed the goods were non-GMO," to move forward. While the company maintains that a reasonable consumer wouldn't consider the consumption for GMO animal feed as qualifying its products as containing GMOs, the judge disagreed with the defense which could ultimately end up being a major win for consumers.
We'll continue to cover this case as it moves forward.
Source: Daily Business Review, "Chipotle GMO Class Action, in Miami Court, Survives Dismissal Motion," Celia Ampel, April 22, 2016