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Rachel Parent

Posted on Nov 16, 2015


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GM seeds, GM salmon, and Mandatory labelling

Rachel Parent is the founder of “Kids Right to Know,” an organization calling for the labeling of GM foods. In this exclusive Green Interview, Parent explains the issues surrounding GM seeds, GM salmon, the need for mandatory labelling and how the organization she founded informs, educates, and motivate kids to stand up and make a difference.

In this exclusive interview with Rachel Parent we discuss:

GM seeds

According to Parent, while the promise of genetically modified plants was to increase yields and use less water, neither has actually been achieved. Instead, the purpose today seems to be either pest resistance or to allow the increased use of pesticides. “They require more water, they require more fertilizers, they require more pesticides,” she says. Parent also explains how the promise to feed the world was never realized and instead GMOs are contributing to poverty worldwide. She says farmers are investing in genetically modified seeds because they think that the yields will be higher but soon find that “they get diseases, the yields fail, pests become resistant to it and they eat all their crops and the farmers end up with nothing.”

GM salmon

Parent also discusses GM salmon—the eggs were approved by Canada’s Minister of Environment in 2013 but the fish themselves have yet to be approved for human consumption. The salmon are engineered with a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon and genetic material from ocean pout (an eel-like creature). The company AquaBounty—now owned by Intrexon—claims the salmon grow to market-size twice as fast as other farmed salmon and plan to produce the eggs in Prince Edward Island and ship them to Panama for grow-out and processing. If approved, it would be the first GE food animal in the world. Parent says that if any of these bigger, faster growing, more aggressive fish were to escape into the wild there would be a “domino effect” of environmental consequences.

Mandatory labelling

According to Parent, 64 countries around the world have mandatory labeling while Canada and the US are the only two industrialized nations that don’t require mandatory GMO labelling. She also points out that 70 percent of the foods we now eat contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) but we don’t know it because there’s no requirement to label it. Parent argues that while many independent peer reviewed studies question the safety of GMOs, linking them to allergies, digestive disorders, organ damage, even tumors, we are in effect being used as guinea pigs by the biotech industry.

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  • More than 100 Nobel prize-winners, about one third of the living recipients, have signed a petition asking Greenpeace to back off its opposition to GMO rice that produces beta carotene, potentially supplying millions of third world children whose diets leave them deficient in Vitamin A.

    “Lack of the vital nutrient causes blindness in a quarter-million to a half-million children each year. It affects millions of people in Asia and Africa and so weakens the immune system that some two million die each year of diseases they would otherwise survive,” writes the New York Times.

    It’s one thing to oppose scientific advances that are misused to create monopoly dominance of agriculture. It is another to prevent life-saving technologies from reaching the world’s poorest people for ideological reasons. The case against GMO foods rests too much on prejudice and preconceptions.

    From the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/30/nobel-winners-slam-greenpeace-for-anti-gm-campaign

    From the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/sunday-review/golden-rice-lifesaver.html?_r=0

    From the journal Science: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/341/6152/1320.full

    • Silver Donald Cameron

      Fair enough, Parker, but the heart of Rachel’s case is that GMO foods need to be labelled so consumers can decide for themselves whether they want to eat them.