Translator: Bob Prottas
Reviewer: Ariana Bleau Lugo Imagine you just got home from school or work and you’re starving. It’s too early for dinner,
so you grab a bag of corn chips and start munching. As you reach into the bag
to grab another chip you notice something on the package label. New and improved. Now made with genetically engineered corn. Your first thought is: wow, science is awesome. This corn must have more nutrients, or maybe it can be grown with less water or something equally as cool, right? If only that was true. What if I told you that this corn
was not engineered to taste better, or to give you more nutrients, or to be grown with less water, or to grow faster? But instead was engineered
to have its own internal insecticide? You know, a chemical
that would rupture the stomachs of bugs when they try to eat the corn. Sounds like a tasty
after school snack to you? But don’t worry. You may never see this kind of information
on your packages of corn chips. Because although this insecticide corn
is being used in more than 70%
of the processed food on our shelves the companies who engineered it are spending millions of dollars
to make sure it’s never put on the label. Wouldn’t you like to see this kind
of information on your food labels? I would. My name is Rachael Parent. I’m 15 years old and I’ve been creating
awareness about GMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms
since I was 12. So if we’ve been eating GMOs
for the last 20 years, what’s the big deal? Many scientists say that GMOs
are nothing to worry about. I’m not a scientist. But somehow the idea of eating food that contains its own bug killer sounds a bit strange to me. So I decided to learn
all I could about these GMOs. Here’s what I found. When first created,
GMOs were supposed to increase yields, be better for the environment, give us more nutrition,
and use less water. Sadly, after two decades
this wish has not come true. Corn, canola, soy, and sugar beets. The 4 GM crops that dominate
our fields and our food do one of two things: create its own internal insecticide, or remain alive after being repeatedly sprayed
with pesticides. So, what else has happened
in these same 20 years? Global agriculture has made a huge shift. Industrialized farming, monocroping. Plants hardwired with pesticides. Chemical companies that own seeds. And the law suits
to defend those patented seeds when they get blown
into a neighbor’s field. Slowly, I began finding studies that disagreed
with the “GMOs are awesome” studies. Scientists around the world
were asking questions and sometimes losing their jobs
for asking those questions. It was easy to get confused though,
I mean, which scientist should I believe? Which study was more accurate? Fortunately, it didn’t take
a scientist to figure things out. Even a 15-year-old can research enough
to realize when a corporation pays for or coordinates a study and hires a third party
to keep them from looking biased. The more I learned about GMOs, the more I began to wonder
about their purpose. And the more I found out
about their purpose, the more I began to worry about my future and the future of the planet. So, what is the purpose
of genetic engineering? The argument you hear
most often is to feed the world. The world already produces
more than enough food. The real reason for hunger is poverty, as any global hunger or poverty
organization around the world will tell you. When corporations control food the cost of food goes up,
making poverty worse. Another argument you might hear is that GMO crops increase yields. Many studies have proven
that GMO crop yields are no better than conventional crops. So, if they aren’t increasing yields, and they aren’t feeding the world, what are they doing? They are dramatically increasing
pesticide use. If you engineer a crop
to withstand weed killer, you use weed killer more often because you’re not afraid of
hurting the crop. If you use weed killer more often weeds evolve to resist it. But don’t worry, the corporations
have the answer to superweeds too. They are now engineering corn
and soybean to be resistant to 2,4-D. The key ingredient in Agent Orange
to kill those huge evolved weeds. Corn chips anyone? Beneficial insects are being harmed. Monarch butterflies need milkweed. But milkweed is almost gone
thanks to all those weed killers. This year the monarch population
is at its lowest point in history. A 90% decline. And the same thing is happening with bees
and pesticides all around the world. Other crops are being contaminated too. Seeds are spread by wind,
water, bees, and birds. So what happens
when these genetically engineered seeds start growing in the field next door? The organic crop gets contaminated. Meanwhile, the organic farmer
is held liable to fix the problem. Or worse, face a lawsuit for having illegally-grown patented seeds
in their field. That would be like you being sued
by your neighbor if he spray-painted his house purple and some of it blew onto your house. Crazy right? Nearly two decades after GMOs
have been introduced into our diet no long-term human health studies
have been conducted, although many animal feeding studies
have been done. A study published by the Journal showed that GMOs were actually decreasing yields. Another study showed that GMOs
were actually related to allergies. This study was done
by the Journal of Pediatrics. They showed food allergies
in one in 12 children. Is there a connection? Dr. Theirry Vrain, a retired research scientist
from Agriculture Canada speculated that by inserting
a foreign gene into the plant, it may be creating
a new allergic response. As of today, 64 countries around the world
already require mandatory GMO labeling, including the entire European Union
where they outright banned them. Canada and the US are the only two industrialized nations
in the world that don’t require mandatory GMO labeling. A couple of years ago,
I was honored to meet with Dr. Seralini a professor from the University of Caen who conducted
a two-year feeding study on rats. The results were sobering. Organ damage, digestive disorders, immune system problems,
tumors, even premature death. Other studies resulted in stillbirths and reproductive problems. I was only 11 years old
when I first heard the word GMO, and started learning
all I could about the subject. I watched people purchase large amounts
of chips, dips, sodas, and lemonades without ever knowing the ingredients
had been genetically modified. That’s when I knew I had to do something, but the issue was most Canadians
had never heard about GMOs, so I decided to change that. It all started with my speech
in grade six to inform my classmates. My first speech outside of school was for an environmental event
with a huge audience of 12 people. Two of which were my parents. But that didn’t slow me down. I went bigger. I founded a non-profit organization
called “Kids Right to Know.” Our goal was to inform, educate, and motivate kids to make a difference
and to take a stand. Our first Kids Right to Know march
was downtown Toronto, November 2012 where I was joined
by about 250 kids and parents. The following year I was able to share
my message with more than 3,000 people at my first march against Monsanto, which was pretty awesome. Not to long after, I was watching TV when I saw Kevin O’Leary
on the Lang & O’Leary Exchange show. He said: “Anyone who was marching
against Monsanto was stupid. And if they didn’t like GMOs
they should stop eating.” I couldn’t let that one go. So, I publicly challenged him to a debate. I remember when I found out
he accepted, I thought, it was great news,
but terrifying at the same time. I mean, think about it, a 14-year-old, grade 8 student
going up against a very successful 60 year old business man known for speaking his mind. This was as David and Goliath as it gets. I have to admit,
it was a little nerve-wracking. But in the end,
I was happy with the results. Kevin admitted we were all
in a long-term study because we’ve been eating GMOs
for two decades. And Amanda, his co-host,
summed it up by saying, “We are the lab rats.” All along, my message has been simple, “Just label it.” We already label the things
we feel are important for us to know. I mean, 50-years ago
we didn’t label calories, salt, types of fat, or if it may contain nuts. But now we do. We even label things that are made
from concentrate while they’re farmed, and country of origin. Not because they’re unsafe, but because consumers want to know. Food manufacturers didn’t spend
millions of dollars trying to hide these labeling changes, and they didn’t raise
the price of food to change the label, they simply responded
to consumer demand and added them. So, why are these same food manufacturers and the biotech corporations telling us
that we don’t need GMOs labeled? If there’s nothing wrong with GMOs what are they trying to hide from us? To quote Dr. David Suzuki: “Any politician or scientist that tells
you these GMO products are safe is either very stupid or lying.” I may not be a scientist, and I may not hold
a university degree yet, but I believe that we all deserve
the right to know what’s in our food. And we should all have the freedom
to choose what we eat. The solution is simple to me, just label it. And I hope you all share my vision in leaving the Earth
better than we found it. We owe this to ourselves
and to the many generations yet to come. Thank you. (Applause)