Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Rachel Parent, founder of the not-for-profit organization Kids Right To Know, was reportedly targeted by the pro-GMO lobby. (Photo: Screenshot/GlobalNews.ca)

Threatened by Powerful Voice, Industry 'Attack Dog' Hired to Discredit Teenage Anti-GMO Activist

"The agrichemical industry is plainly quite threatened by this teenage schoolgirl, so that's why they're after her."

Deirdre Fulton

The U.S. agrichemical lobby targeted a Canadian teenager as part of its "increasingly nasty and divisive public relations war over GMOs," according to new reporting from Global News.

Rachel Parent was 14 years old when her activism around labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food caught the eye of pro-GMO corporations and lobby groups.

According to emails and thousands of other pages of documents released in a freedom of information request by U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), a non-profit advocacy group funded by the Organic Consumers Association, these industry forces conspired to think of ways to discredit Parent and counter her message.

"It's mostly scientists that they attack, but Rachel is a standout," Gary Ruskin, the co-director of USRTK, told Global News. "The agrichemical industry is plainly quite threatened by this teenage schoolgirl, so that’s why they're after her."

Among other things, the news outlet reports that University of Florida professor Kevin Folta—whom Ruskin describes as "one of the principal attack dogs of the agrichemical industry"—was hired by public relations firm Ketchum to make a video about Parent.

According to Global News:

The video discussed Parent’s activism, her belief that all GMO food products should be labelled, and addressed her apparent lack of scientific knowledge.

“So when I think about answering Rachel Parent, who’s the activist child – well, young woman – who’s running the website ‘Kids Right to Know…The things I just adore about Rachel is that she’s clearly very articulate, clearly intelligent,” Folta said in the video.

“The problem that I have is when Rachel starts to let non-scientific thinking really kind of cloud her final decision-making process.”

Parent said she finds the tone of the video “almost degrading.”

A poll commissioned by a coalition of consumer and environmental groups showed earlier this month that nearly 90 percent of Americans want mandatory labeling on GMO foods.

For more, see the Global News video below:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Love Wins Again': Senate Passes Bill to Protect Same-Sex and Interracial Marriage

"While Congress has taken an important step," said the head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, "it is incumbent on all of us to continue to push for passage of the comprehensive Equality Act."

Jessica Corbett ·


Groups Blast Biden for 'Siding With Billionaires Over Rail Workers'

As criticism of the president's position mounts, some members of Congress are speaking out in support of including at least seven days of paid sick leave in any measure they pass.

Jessica Corbett ·


'A Very Good Day for Our Republic' as Key Jan. 6 Insurrectionist Convicted of Seditious Conspiracy

"Now the only remaining question is how much higher did those plans go, and who else might be held criminally responsible," said one former federal prosecutor after Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers militia, was found guilty.

Brett Wilkins ·


Australian Report Advises 'Urgent Action' to Combat Slavery in Clean Energy Supply Chains

"We need to see industry, government, the financial sector, and civil society working together to provide access to competitively costed, slavery-free renewable energy."

Brett Wilkins ·


Progressives Mobilize in Georgia for Dec. 6 Senate Runoff

Advocacy groups backing Sen. Raphael Warnock call the Democrat a "reproductive rights champion" who is also "fighting to stop the climate crisis and create good jobs in the process."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo