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Do You Think This Teenager Can Win a GMO Debate on TV?

I just came across this video, and this young girl does wonders during a no-holds-barred debate on genetically modified food (GMO). The teenager in question is anti-GMO activist Rachel Parent, who faced off against CBC’s Kevin O’Leary. He had reportedly said earlier that people who stand against GMOs should “stop eating” so we can “get rid of them.”

Given this, it’s no shock how O’Leary comes out hard against the Toronto high school student during the 13-minute-long piece.

But full marks to Rachel, who was 14 years old at the time, because she does a fine job in dealing with his line of questioning in a well-mannered way and always staying on the issue.

While the debate occurred in 2013, what they discuss is still pertinent today, and it pretty much ended up being another PR disaster for the likes of the Monsanto corporation.

But I guess that also depends on where you stand on the whole GMO issue.

While we’re talking about PR disasters, Monsanto is currently reeling after the World Health Organization said in March that glyphosate, the main ingredient in their widely used weed killer Roundup, “probably” causes cancer.

It’d be interesting to see a rematch between Rachel and O’Leary on that issue, but I’d doubt he’d want to come back for seconds.

Anti-GMO activist Rachel Parent Getting a grilling on CBS TV but handling it well.
Anti-GMO activist Rachel Parent gets a grilling on CBS TV, but handles it well. (Image: kidsrighttoknow.com)

As part of her activism, Rachel established Kids Right to Know, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing awareness of the GMO issue, and the need for proper testing and labeling. Here is some background information that Rachel wrote about it, and on the extent of GMO use in North American food.

Hi everyone, my name is Rachel Parent

When I first heard about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), I was confused and angry. I’ll never forget when my world was turned upside down. I learned I was part of a big science experiment. I couldn’t believe that our government wasn’t doing any independent testing on the long-term effects of GMOs on our health and the environment.

I couldn’t believe they approved GMO crops based only on the studies from the biotech companies that stood to profit from their approval.

At first I didn’t know what to do, and as I researched more and more, I became seriously worried about the long-term risks of GMOs. I didn’t realize at the time that there was much more at stake than our health. There is our freedom of choice, our environment, our bees and butterflies, our entire ecosystem, and our future!

Approximately 70% of the foods we now eat contain Genetically Modified Organisms and many independent, peer reviewed studies question the safety of GMOs, for our health and the environment. Ingredients such as corn, canola, soy, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and vegetable oil found in most processed foods have a 90% chance of being genetically modified. GMO labeling is mandatory in 64 countries around the world, including

Australia, Japan, Russia, China and all the countries in the European Union. But not in Canada or the USA, so my question is: WHY NOT US?

Then I began to realize what I needed to do—I had to tell others about it, especially the children. So I founded a not-for-profit organization called Kids Right To Know. The main goal of my organization is to increase awareness about GMOs and the risks associated with them, and to demand mandatory GMO labeling for all the products that unsuspecting parents are feeding their families. Since then, my anger and worry has become my strength and motivation to help make our world a better place.

Ultimately, we want Freedom of Choice in what we eat, so let’s work together and get GMOs labeled here in Canada and the U.S.!

See Rachel’s speech at the TEDx Toronto Conference last year below.

James Burke
What keeps the world ticking? James is always looking for the answer and the latest news from around the globe. When he's not behind his computer, he's basking in the Thailand sun, or dreaming of the southern hemisphere, where he grew up in rural Australia.

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