By Kim Robson
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) airs a popular show called the Lang & O’Leary Exchange. Hosts Amanda Lang and Kevin O’Leary tackle the top business issues of the day in sometimes heated exchanges. Kevin O’Leary is a self-made billionaire who is proud to describe himself as “opinionated, ruthless, hungering for big deals, and loves to take control.”
On a recent show on May 27th, Mr. O’Leary launched into a rant about recent protests about Monsanto’s use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). He claims that “Monsanto should be held up as a hero because they’ve developed technologies that help underdeveloped countries increase productivity by five and ten times … You’re an ignorant and stupid person if you say what Monsanto does is bad for human beings.”
Regarding the protestors, he quips, “It’s like those morons who stood in the park, during the whatever it was called, and froze their asses off.”
Then he blurted out the final insult: “I have an answer for these people: stop eating. That’s the solution. That simple. Then we can get rid of them.” I loved Amanda Lang’s response: “You know what you’d be really good at? Running Guantanamo.” I had to laugh.
Well, the likes of Mr. O’Leary do not intimidate youth activist Rachel Parent. This young woman, only 14 years old, is the founder of the website gmo-news.com and Kids’ Right To Know. When 12 years old, Rachel had to prepare a speech on a topic that interested her for all the students at her school. She chose GMOs because they affect so many lives. Rachel saw an opportunity to better everyone’s health and help improve our overburdened health care system. She understood that GMOs are affecting the entire planet, from humans to bees. The earth’s and kids’ futures are at stake. GMOs were a natural choice as a topic, as the situation urgently needed immediate attention. She won a medal for her speech.
Rachel then went on to speak before a live audience at a Right to Know event in Toronto and created a YouTube video urgently warning children about the dangers of GMOs. She’s also appeared on Daytime Toronto. One of her latest projects included baking a massive 48” fresh apple pie made without GMO ingredients to share with the hungry at St James Park. The GMO topic is personal for Rachel, as she had previously traveled to northern areas of South America and to Brazil’s Amazon, both sensitive areas now being devastated by the planting of GM soybeans.
When she heard about Kevin O’Leary’s thoughtless, callous and inflammatory comments, she publicly threw down the gauntlet. She challenged Mr. O’Leary to a live debate on his own show, saying that if he promised “not to use the word ‘stupid,’ I’ll promise not to use the word ‘fascist.’ ” Much to everyone’s amazement, he accepted.
On July 31st, Rachel Parent appeared on the Lang & O’Leary Exchange and became an instant internet sensation. She stuck to her message about mandatory GMO labeling and independent testing; and, at every turn, Ms. Parent foiled Mr. O’Leary’s hostility with grace, intelligence, and aplomb. Just a few of the gems from O’Leary’s mouth:
“You know what a lobbyist is? Do you think you’re a lobbyist for the anti-GMO movement?”
“What do you say to a child your age who’s going to die?”
“That may be giving a death sentence to millions of people around the world that are not as fortunate as you are.”
“What I’m concerned about is whether you’ve become a shill — ” (Oh, the irony!) “ — for a group that wants to use you because you’re young, articulate, you’re getting lots of media… whether you REALLY deep down believe this?”
“Are you anti-science?”
And the final coup de grace, when O’Leary delivered his own sucker punch to himself:
O’Leary: “We’re already IN a long-term study, you’re eating GM food whether you like it or not…”
Parent (cutting in): “WE’RE the lab rats.”
O’Leary: “…and we have been for decades.”
Brava, Rachel! To keep such a cool head at such a young age, in the face of such aggressive, smarmy corporate oppression, truly shows that this young lady will be going far in life. Don’t stand in her way. We look forward to seeing more of her dedication and passion for Mother Nature in the future.
As Rachel proves, ANYONE can be a force for change if they put in the effort. You can sign petitions for transparent GMO labeling in Canada and in the United States. You can also “Like” the Kids Right To Know Club on Facebook, or follow Rachel’s News on Twitter. To reduce or eliminate GMOs from your household, check out this Non-GMO Shopping Guide.