Documents recently obtained in a freedom of information request by a non-profit advocacy group known as US Right to Know (USRTK), reveal that the GMO lobby might be threatened by the work of a 14 year old student activist. Rachel Parent has been working to spread awareness over GMO food for some time now and she's managed to attract quite the following for herself. Using various social media platforms and having established her own site, Kids Right To Know, Parent has been able to carve out a position for herself in the market when it comes to discussing the dangerous surrounding GMOs.
Parent was even lucky enough to have a debate with Kevin O'Leary which aired on national television, and she also give a speech at a past TEDx event on the basic premise that individuals do have a right to know what's in their food. Parent was also successful at campaigning until she got a sit-down with former Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose, to discuss the issues surrounding the labeling of GMO food. It is said that Parent is one of Canada's most visible anti-GMO advocates.
Dan Dicks had the chance to speak with Parent earlier this year, where she shared some light on her ongoing efforts, details about the March Against Monsanto, and on why this issue is so important to her:
The documents recently obtained in the freedom of information request reveal that Parent's message has been attracting attention from the GMO corporations themselves. Their internal e-mails display that they have been discussing how they could possibly counter her anti-GMO message. “It is mostly scientists that they attack, but Rachel is a standout. The agrichemical industry is plainly quite threatened by this teenage schoolgirl, so that's why they're after her,” says Gary Ruskin, the co-director of USRTK. The documents detail that professors and academics were contacted by biotech companies and the industry trade association's public relations firm in order to provide some expert opinion and to offer credibility in a debate on the topic.
One relationship that the documents did allegedly shine some light on was that between Monsanto and the chairman of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida, Kevin Folta. It was revealed that in August 2014, Folta allegedly received a grant from Monsanto to the tune of $25,000 and he was told to put it towards his “research and outreach projects,” that he had going. Folta wrote a blog about the grant and discussed his plans to use the money to fund his travels so that he could teach other scientists how to talk about science. Folta denies the claims and says that he “doesn't care about the companies,” only that he himself believes GMO technology is safe.
Documents also reveal that Folta was asked to establish a counter-argument to Parent's work against GMO technology. “How do you agree/disagree with a 14-year old GMO labeling activist Rachel Parent, who is, in her own words 'not anti-science' but 'for responsible science and ethical progress?” read the request. They also added that they “try to refrain from personally attacking folks,” so that Folta shouldn't spend too much time worrying about Rachel specifically. Just a few days later, a video surfaced online 'How do you agree/disagree with a 14 year old GMO activist?”
Folta still wasn't done with Parent. The e-mails also disclose that Folta allegedly had plans to purchase a site domain in order to counter Parent's own site, and he would title his kidsrighttotruth.com which is a play off of her own Kids Right To Know site. If the science and the truth in support of GMO technology is so sound, then it's surprising that they find a random 14 year old from Canada to be such a threat on the matter. Truth doesn't need propaganda in order to support it because the truth should be able to stand-up on its own. Parent isn't swayed by the attacks and she says that she is still going strong with her message, “we're just appealing to simple transparency,” she says.
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