An Open Letter and Invitation to Rachel Parent

By Lauren Benoit

Dear Rachel Parent,

My name is Lauren Benoit. I’m 21 years old and I have been following your story and your crusade against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for quite some time. You are a remarkably talented and accomplished young lady. I applaud your quest to provide people with more information about where their food comes from.

As both a farmer and someone who aspires to a career in science, I couldn’t agree more that the public deserves accurate reliable information about the products on grocery store shelves. Truthfully, the only place we disagree on is what actually qualifies as good information.

I am firmly in the pro-GMO camp. Biotechnology is a valuable tool for farmers that allows us to grow the abundance of safe and affordable food that we are privileged to here in Canada. The use of GM technology has several benefits, including reducing the need for tillage (which can cause soil erosion) and reducing the amount of fossil fuel burned on farm (and thus GHG emissions). More recent genetically-modified innovations, such as non-browning apples or bruise-resistant potatoes, are new options to help significantly reduce food waste.

The National Academy of Science recently released a report supporting the safety of GMO foods and cited no risk to the environment or humans — the future of science and biotechnology is bright.

Right now, you are choosing to continue your anti-GMO crusade despite overwhelming evidence that your information is flawed. I don’t know if this is because you distrust the more than 270 scientific bodies standing behind the safety of GMOs or because of the financial gain and social status that you gain from it. Either way, I feel for you. The empire that you have built on pseudoscience and fear seems to be crumbling.

For someone at the age where they are just beginning a career, I could understand if you’re afraid of what this means for you. Being 19 years old is hard enough as it is, and you have a lot of added weight on your shoulders right now. You started Kids Right to Know when you were 11 years old. You’ve spent 8 years — almost half your life — working on this cause, and as we continue to learn about GM technology, the facts are not in your favour. 

Even though we disagree on a topic very near to both our hearts, I do respect your drive and, if armed with accurate information, I think you have potential to become one of the great scientific communicators of our generation. I truly hope that you will listen to the science before it is too late and we see what could have become a wonderful career communicating science-based information disintegrate.

I would very much like to meet you and hear more of your story, if you’d be willing to meet — the coffee’s on me.

Yours truly,

Lauren Benoit

Lauren BenoitLauren Benoit is a 2016 BSc. (Agr) graduate from the University of Guelph who was raised on a grain farm just outside of Kirkton, ON. Lauren is currently working in crop protection research and has plans to begin an MSc. Degree in weed science at the University of Guelph in January 2017.

7 thoughts on “An Open Letter and Invitation to Rachel Parent

  1. Great article – humans have always modified plants through breeding.
    I’ve gotta ask an off-topic – is the bar you’re in still called informally “The Keg”? It was rebranded as Brass Taps years ago after a restaurant chain with a similar name complained, but when I went to U of G everybody still called it that. It hasn’t changed very much!! Thanks!

  2. I wish I had some hope that this letter will reach its intended target, but as was well-described in the letter, Rachel is too invested (personally, financially, emotionally, and by family connection) in the pseudoscience that she preaches. It would entail a huge loss on her part to admit that she was wrong.
    I’ll hope…….but without much real hope.

    Nevertheless, it’s a beautifully written letter, and even if it doesn’t reach Rachel, maybe it will reach others and have a positive impact.

  3. Lauren, make sure that you know the hit piece by Alison Vuchnich at Global News Canada where she claims Monsanto paid me to harass Rachel. The story is disgusting. When Rachel claims that this is true, hold her feet to the fire. Ask her if she knows what was actually said, or if she just parroted what her handlers wanted. It was awful, and has basically ended my long history of frequent interactions with schools. It was false, and one of the most defamatory and damaging things written about my desire to teach science.

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