GMO labelling activist Rachel Parent has rare meeting with health minister

Watch above: Allison Vuchnich reports on Rachel Parent’s long-awaited meeting with Health Minister Rona Ambrose.

It’s a big day for Rachel Parent, a young activist crusading for labelling foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

“I am extremely excited I can’t wait to finally meet with her,” says Parent. “I will be going to her office and we will be discussing GMO labelling.”

Parent is standing outside of Parliament Hill in a few minutes she is about to meet Health Minister Rona Ambrose.

All this and she doesn’t even have a driver’s licence yet.

This 15-year-old is Canada’s most visible GMO labelling advocate, even starting her own foundation, Kids Right to Know, when she was just 12.

READ MORE: Meet Rachel Parent — the teen fighting for GMO labelling in Canada

“First of all there is no scientific proof saying that [GMOs] are safe for Canadians,” says Parent. “And second of all, the only people that test it are the very people who make the GMO products.
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“Health Canada nor the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do any independent testing,” adds Parent.

Industry and regulators disagree, saying the scientific research supporting the safety of GMOs is vast and independent, and these products are highly regulated and approved by Health Canada and the FDA.

READ MORE: Vermont’s food fight over mandatory GMO labelling

For more than a year, Parent has been lobbying – speaking at schools, rallies, sending letters by courier – in the hope of securing a meeting with Ambrose.

Parent admits after more than a year of lobbying she was beginning to lose hope that a meeting would happen.

Then, in September, Global News asked Ambrose if she would meet with Parent. Ambrose said she would.

The health minister kept her word and, at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Parent had her moment to convince the health minister the federal government should consider mandatory GMO labelling.

The meeting, scheduled for half-an-hour ran closer to 45 minutes. Rachel emerged from the meeting with a smile on her face.

“I am super happy and excited. I am just glad that I was able to have the opportunity,” says Parent.

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“[Ambrose was] very willing to listen, which was amazing, she was just very kind, sweet and receptive.”
WATCH: Global News speaks exclusively to Rachel Parent after her meeting with Rona Ambrose

The next day Ambrose described Rachel as an “incredibly impressive young woman” and a “great role model for other young people.”

But, she reiterated that there is currently no scientific evidence that proves GMOs are unhealthy for Canadians, so she will not be moving toward mandatory labelling.

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Ambrose did say she will let Parent present her information to Health Canada officials

“As next steps, [I’ll] set-up a meeting with her and those at Health Canada, the scientists and researchers that make these decisions, so that she can give them some of the information she gave me,” she told Global News.
WATCH: Rona Ambrose says she will help facilitate a meeting with Parent and Health Canada

“She brought a lot of information on research she has access to and polling and things that other countries are doing so we’re going to facilitate that meeting for her.”

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At the same time, Parent held her own press conference on Parliament Hill, with MP Murray Rankin who has introduced a motion for mandatory GMO labelling.

Parent shows no signs of slowing down.

“I know that with persistence… that we will get GMOs labelled,” she said.

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