Culture of LifeTue May 8, 2012 - 12:13 pm EST
Twelve-year-old celebrates victory in Pepsi boycott after leading petition effort
CLEAR WATER, FL, May 7, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - With the recent success of the pro-life boycott against PepsiCo, relieved pro-lifers all over the country are cracking open cans of Mountain Dew, but few are more gratified than twelve-year-old Gene Rosa, who was in the midst of an effort to end Pepsi consumption in every Catholic school in his diocese.
The nationwide boycott was sparked by revelations that the soft drink company was contracting with Senomyx to conduct flavor research using cells derived from the kidney tissue of an aborted baby. Children of God for Life, the pro-life organization spear-heading the effort, declared victory last week after a Pepsi official confirmed an end to the unethical research.
Gene, who lives in Clear Water, FL, where Children of God for Life is headquartered, had become involved in the issue when he noticed that the two vending machines in the lunch room at his Catholic school were dispensing Pepsi products.
Already a passionate pro-life activist, Gene was a frequent participant at the Clear Water 40 Days for Life which his mom, Laura, coordinated. News of Pepsi’s contract really got him fired up, he says, because it took the evil of abortion one step further – the babies were not only being killed, but their bodies desecrated for “psycho research.”
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The seventh grader launched a petition among the student body, and gathered parents’ signatures as well. It morphed into a great opportunity to educate his peers, none of whom were aware of the issue, says Gene. Around seventy signed the petition, and some pledged to stop drinking soda from the machines.
Petition in hand, Gene began contacting school officials, looking for someone willing to talk to him. His efforts finally won him the opportunity to explain the boycott to the Vice Superintendent for Catholic Schools in the Diocese of St. Petersburg.
The Superintendent was supportive, says Laura, who attended the meeting with her son, but explained that the decision to remove Pepsi products from the machines would lie with individual principals and pastors.
The Rosas were preparing to draft a letter to send to every pastor in the Diocese when news came that Pepsi had backed down.
“I just said praise God,” Laura recalls. “Gene and I just rejoiced when we heard it. I picked him up from school and said, ‘I have some really, really great news for you.’”
Gene received an award for his work from Debi Vinnedge, Executive Director of Children of God for Life. Vinnedge didn’t know Gene before the boycott, but was thrilled to hear that a local seventh grader had become so involved.
“When a twelve year old takes on a project like this without a second thought about the fact that he’s taking on a major corporation, and he wins, that’s pretty good,” she said. “That’s a pretty good track record.”