Is Greenpeace committing a crime against humanity?
A letter from 110 Nobel laureates suggests as much. It urges the environmental group to drop its campaign against genetically modified foods, particularly so-called “Golden Rice,” which could help prevent millions of deaths in the developing world.
Calling GMOs food “Frankenfood” is a brilliant scare-mongering term, heavily promoted by Greenpeace. But it has no basis in reality.
Just a couple of months ago, the National Academies of Sciences found in its latest report that GMOs “are as safe as” non-GMOs foods. The European Union has concluded after 130 research projects and 25 years of research that “there is, as of today, no scientific evidence associating GMOs with higher risks for the environment or for food and feed safety than conventional plants and organisms.”
And the American Association for the Advancement of Science concludes that “the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.”
Why, then, does Greenpeace insist these foods could be “a threat to human and environmental health?” When it comes to global warming, Greenpeace and other environmental organizations are quite clear. They correctly insist that we should listen to the overwhelming scientific evidence that global warming is real and will cause significant problems. Yet they ignore the overwhelming science on GMOs.
One of the Nobel laureates, Sir Richard Roberts, suggests an answer: A scare campaign was good for fund-raising.
It’s certainly true that bad stories are better for fundraising than good ones. For global warming, the science provides a plethora of negative stories to help fundraise, but following the overwhelming science on GM foods helps less. With a need to raise $366 million a year, Greenpeace isn’t exactly a mom-and-pop shop.
In this case, disregarding the overwhelming scientific evidence causes real-world deaths
When 3 million Zambians were facing famine in 2002, their president refused GM maize donations, describing it as “poison.” With millions of its own citizens facing starvation, Zimbabwe also denied GM maize because they wouldn’t be “used as guinea pigs” — even though Americans already had been eating it for seven years by then.
The misinformation around Golden Rice, however, has been even more deadly. It is a genetically modified rice that contains high levels of carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. This matters because 3 billion people depend on rice as their staple food, but rice lacks vitamin A.
The World Health Organization estimates that lack of vitamin A makes 250,000-500,000 kids go blind each year, and half of them die within a year.
The medical journal The Lancet estimates that each year, 668,000 kids under 5 die each year from vitamin A deficiency.
Ingeniously, Golden Rice could allow them billions to eat rice but get more vitamin A than they would get from eating spinach; 50 grams would provide 60 percent of the daily dose.
Yet Greenpeace, along with other organizations, has been fighting Golden Rice for at least 15 years, arguing that there might be unspecific “risks to human health.” This is indefensible, and risks millions of unnecessary deaths as the 110 Nobel laureates have pointed out in no uncertain terms.