A 14 Year Old’s Viral GMO Video: Activist or Pawn?

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14 Year Old GMO Activist or Pawn?

A video is going viral around social media right now. People are treating it as if it happened last week, but in fact it happened nearly a year ago. The topic? A fourteen year old anti-GMO activist (Rachel Parent) takes on Kevin O’Leary of The Lang & O’Leary Exchange on the great GMO debate.

Before I get into the video, I want to talk about what exactly the GMO debate is about. People are hearing the controversy, but not really understanding what it is. My own husband (when I was talking to him about my thoughts on the video) said that he has heard of GMOs, knows it’s a hot-button issue, and yet has no idea what exactly it’s all about.

A fourteen year old anti-GMO activist takes on Kevin O'Leary in the great GMO debate. Is she a free-thinking activist or is she a pawn for the cause?

We don’t take the news broadcasts as seriously as we use to. They are bombarding us with “huge issues” and we can’t very well research them all to see how we feel about them. Instead, we just tune them out.

What are GMOs?

GMOs are genetically modified organisms. Often you will hear the description that they are modified with bacteria, viruses, animal DNA, and plant DNA. While that is a true description, that covers any genetically modified organism. What about just genetically modified food? Foods are typically modified using the DNA of other plants. A little less scary than thinking of foods being modified with bacteria and viruses, right? These modifications are made to create food for insect resistance, fungal resistance, viral resistance, herbicide resistance, improved nutritional content and improved storage abilities.

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How is this different from hybrid plants? Hybrid plants are crossed to create a plant with certain desired traits. This practice is somewhat limiting in the ability to truly alter the plant.

When did scientists start playing with food?

Science playing a part in the foods we eat is nothing new. Thousands of years ago people discovered that yeasts could create fermented beverages (ironically, this discovery was not made by the Irish or the Scottish). Later, in 1871, scientist Louis Pasteur discovered that heating fluids to a certain temperature would kill of bad bacteria.  Recognize the name? We call his methods pasteurization. The modifying of plant DNA started in 1946 with the first ever modified plant being in 1983. The FDA quickly approved sale of this tomato plant to the United States. Since that time, many new plants have been created from DNA modification. As of 2013, approximately 91% of soybeans, 88% of cotton and 85% of corn in the U.S. is modified.

What about other countries?

More than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan and all of the E.U. (European Union) are putting restrictions on GMOs or in some cases, outright bans. Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, Germany and Luxembourg have gone so far as to adopt a Safeguard Clause meaning they can restrict or prohibit the use and sale of GMO foods in their territories.

The Viral Video

In June of 2013, anti-GMO activist Rachel Parent called out Kevin O’Leary during a protest. Her drive was a comment made by O’Leary during an episode of Lang & O’Leary’s Exchange where he was singing the praises of GM foods because of the increase of crops in struggling countries. When asked questioned about his concern for health effects from these foods he had

an answer for those people [who worry about negative health effects]. Stop eating. That’s the solution. Then we can get rid of them.

O’Leary is known for poking sleeping bears. Tact is not his strong suit. Honestly, if he was not as crass as he is, he wouldn’t be where he is today. His job is to flare tempers. Well, Rachel was sufficiently flared. He invited her onto the show. Here’s how it went:

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People are singing her praises with post and video headings saying she beats him, educates him, and even publicly embarrasses him. I’m just not seeing it.

This is only my opinion: She is a bright and articulate girl. She pushes for mandatory labeling, intensive long-term testing and educating youth on GMOs. That is awesome. She does not, however, answer his question regarding modifying foods. When she eludes to an answer, it’s not consistent. She states:

I know it sounds radical, but yes, I am against genetically modifying our food.

Not even two minutes later she says:

Actually, I’m totally fine and that’s completely somebody’s decision whether they want to eat GMOs or not… They can keep growing it. That’s totally fine.

Her constant referring back to labeling and testing makes me wonder, is she truly an activist for the cause or has she become a pawn for a movement that she maybe doesn’t fully understand?

Food for Thought

I think Amanda Lang asked some great questions of Parent. I’d like to direct those same questions to you. I certainly don’t know all the answers, but it gave me some great food for thought. I’d love to hear your take.

Is there a place for science in the food industry?

What would ideal testing look like?

Do you think full transparency and labeling would make us immune to the label of “Contains GMOs”?

Do you feel “forced” to eat GM foods because of lack of alternatives here in the U.S.?

If you are interested in seeing the documentary created by O’Leary’s daughter, it can be seen here.

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A fourteen year old anti-GMO activist takes on Kevin O'Leary in the great GMO debate. Is she a free-thinking activist or is she a pawn for the cause?

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I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.

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About Jessica Lane

I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.


A 14 Year Old’s Viral GMO Video: Activist or Pawn? — 5 Comments

  1. The UK and Europe are much less tolerant of GMO food because the controversy has been much better covered. In the most famous case basically a pro-GMO scientist was hired to prove how safe GMO potatoes were and he found that the techniques they used to modify selective genes affected other genes randomly, sometimes in unsafe ways. He was immediately fired, denounced, and everyone who worked with him lost their scientific careers.. I am not totally against GMO foods but they need more testing and transparency and labeling.

  2. First off I’d like to say i really like your blog it’s full of useful information. I can’t speak for most of the movements against Monsato but for me the GMO issue is a drop in the bucket, or really what I believe should be the last straw, they are the creators of DDT, and Agent Orange, and the leading producer of neonicitinoid pesticides in the U.S. neonicitinoid pesticides have been linked to colony collapse disorder which has been decimating the honey bee population for years. The main GMO crops in the U.S. are cotton, wheat, canola, corn, soybeans,there are other crops but these are the main troubles.These are all “Roundup Ready” crops which means they have been altered with DNA from a bacteria resistant to roundup that monsanto found in their toxic waste dump. The original claim was that these plants would need less pesticides and herbicides, but in reality farmers have to spray several times more than the did before, which has created super resistant bugs and weeds and roundup by it’s very nature destroys the ecosystem of the soil you spray it on and actually promotes disease in plants, the heavy use of which has created new crop diseases. In fact they are spraying so much roundup on plants that it has been found in breast milk, meaning that mothers doing what is mnatural are subjecting there children to massive amounts of toxins. Now, Monsanto has a patent on every GMO crop it creates, which makes sense it’s their intellectual property, however aside from preventing the farmers that willingly used their crops to save seed, a whole other kettle of legal fish that brankrupted farmers all over the world, they used the patent to attack and seize the property of farmers who didn’t use their seed but had their crop contaminated with pollen from GMO plants even if only 5% , and using the former employees who got set up in some key positions to keep said contaminated farmers tied up in court so long it bankrupted them. That’s just in the U.S. in India there are farmer suicides to keep there family from debt, because the cotton doesn’t always yield well, and pests are gaining resistance are destroying crops, debt dies with the farmer there. Even when the crop does yield well, when the farmers let their livestock graze the feed after harvest it killed the animals within a few weeks, independent studies have have proven that GMO’s cause cancer in test animals as well as sterilization, within just a few generations. GMO’s are in just about everything, espescially things containing corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and soybean oil, a really small list of ingredients but in almost every piece of processed food one eats. I want the labeling of GMO’s because I hope that it will lead to banning GMO’s and eventually the destruction of Monsanto. There has been science in the farming industry for as long as we’ve farmed this planet, GMO’s are an abomination and an attempt to play god. None of the testing so far has given any indication that GMO’s are good for anyone and I don’t believe there will be any in the future. I believe that labels should have to say outright “Contains GMO’s” because manufacturers use buzz words to describe their product that are designed to hide the truth and having that exact statement will make it cut and dry. I do feel forced to eat GMO’s because even if i try to avoid those ingredients that i know have a very good chance of being GMO, how am i supposed to know if the produce is GMO or not even at a farmers market there’s no guarantee. But with labeling, it allows the free market system to work by people avoiding GMO products will make manufacturers need non GMO options which will encourage more and more farmers to go heirloom, or organic or whatever, which will take money away from Monsanto, Labeling will also lessen their grip on the FDA, which will maybe open them up to having to attone for the damage they’ve done. I apologize for being long winded, but I feel very strongly about them, and again love the blog.

    • I am approving this comment because I feel everyone is entitled to their opinion, however, links have been removed as they linked to questionable sites that I do not wish to give “Google juice” to. -Jess

      Monsanto Chemicals made DDT and Agent Orange not Monsanto. Monsanto is descended from Monsanto Chemicals as they are a split off they however are not the same company.

      Why is that a problem a gene is just a gene, they made crops resistant to herbicides. Actually it does 14.5% less damage then herbicides did before. Do you have evidence that Roundup is found in Breast Milk.

      All seed companies do this it isn’t just Monsanto. Monsanto also has never stolen farmers land, however a bunch farmers have purposely stolen Monsanto’s products and then got sued.

      Monsanto does not cause farmers in India to commit suicide.

      Do you have any evidence that they cause animals to die. Also don’t use Seralini as he got debunked.

      Why would you want to ban something that is perfectly safe.

      There have been 1800 studies showing they are safe, 68% of them were about the environment, and 1000 were independent.

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