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When Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, began writing about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the early 2000s, he started by asking a reasonable question: “What does a clothing company know about genetic engineering?”

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Patagonia Provisions Wild Sockeye Salmon comes only from abundant, sustainable runs—we never use farmed or genetically engineered salmon—and our Tsampa Soup uses only organic, non-GMO ingredients. Photo credit: Amy Kumler

The answer, he said: “Not enough.” And neither does anyone else. In the proliferation of GMOs, Yvon saw a serious threat to wildness and biodiversity.

More than 10 years later, the prevalence of GMOs in everyday food products has risen sharply—but basic consumer awareness remains low.

An alarming bill before Congress aims to keep it that way. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 (H.R. 4432) will remove any requirements for manufacturers to label foods containing GMOs. Even the misleading name of the bill suggests an intention to leave us in the dark.

We all have a right to know what’s in our food. The manufacturers of GMO seeds maintain that GMO corn and soy, found in many everyday food products, are safe. But if they are safe, why not label them?Currently, 64 countries around the world require labeling of foods containing GMOs. Most other developed countries—including 28 nations in the European Union, as well as Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and China—require labeling.
Photo credit: Patagonia
Patagonia believes consumers have the right to know what’s in their food. Photo credit: Patagonia

Yet, in the U.S., various food companies joined together to sue the state of Vermont, the first state to pass legislation requiring labeling of GMO food. (Last month, a district judge ruled in favor of labeling GMO food).

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