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Scientists Scorn Greenpeace’s Deadly GMO Scare Tactics

A group of 107 Nobel laureates signed onto a letter calling out the environmental group Greenpeace for its longstanding opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The Washington Post reports:

“We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against ‘GMOs’ in general and Golden Rice in particular,” the letter states. […]

“We’re scientists. We understand the logic of science. It’s easy to see what Greenpeace is doing is damaging and is anti-science,” [the letter’s organizer, chief scientific officer of New England Biolabs Richard Roberts] told The Washington Post. “Greenpeace initially, and then some of their allies, deliberately went out of their way to scare people. It was a way for them to raise money for their cause.”

The letter pays particular attention to Golden Rice, a GMO that, the letter states, “has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by a vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which has the greatest impact on the poorest people in Africa and Southeast Asia.” It’s a nifty crop—researchers figured out that by adding genes from bacteria and corn, they could create a strain of rice that can be a good source of vitamin A. And that’s an important vitamin—deficiency doesn’t just cause blindness, it also weakens immune systems and is linked to 2 million deaths annually.

And yet, and yet…Greenpeace doesn’t approve. Worse than that, the group’s eco-activists have actively mobilized against its cultivation in the developing world (where it’s needed most), spreading fear and misinformation that’s lead to incidences of targeted vandalism against Golden Rice field trials. They’ve preyed on the public’s apprehension of the unknown, willfully ignoring the counsel of scientists like Michael D. Purugganan, a biology professor and the Dean of Science for NYU, who said that “the genes they inserted to make the vitamin are not some weird manufactured material, but are also found in squash, carrots and melons.” Like so many other environmentalists and green groups, Greenpeace only pays attention to modern science when it’s convenient for the cause du jour, conveniently shedding that affiliation when it’s no longer expedient.

The Nobel laureates’ letter concludes with a question: “How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a “crime against humanity”?” From where we’re sitting, consigning hundreds of thousands of poor children to blindness and contributing to millions of otherwise preventable deaths every year certainly seems to cross that line. Greenpeace has a long history taking highly publicized “stands” to draw attention to its cause (or maybe more accurately to attract press for the group itself), but this is more than some flash-in-the-pan stunt, and human lives are on the line. And don’t take our word for it—a group of more than 100 of the planet’s best and brightest just said so.

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  • Tom

    It remains to be seen whether Greenpeace considers people dying as a result of their actions a feature or a bug.

  • Fat_Man

    I have long argued that “environmentalism” is the last socially acceptable form of racism. The anti-GMO campaign has the effect of starving people in the third world. The law presumes that the natural probable consequences of an intentional action, are intended by the actor. “Greenpeace” therefor intends to starve non-white people. It is yet another example of the long racists tradition of causes like eugenics and zero-population growth, that connects all neo-Malthusians, who are the core of the “environmentalist” movement

  • Andrew Allison

    The anti-GMO crusade is clearly a crime against humanity, and should be treated as such.

    • Jim__L

      There are lots of crusades against humanity on the Left — including de-industrialization, anti-motherhood feminism, institutionalized anti-religious bigotry, no-fault divorce… I could go on.

      • Andrew Allison

        Let’s prioritize them in terms of human suffering, and go after the most egregious first.

        • Jim__L

          Advance on all fronts.

          • Andrew Allison

            Unrealistic. It will be a monumental task to show people how criminal these anti-science crusades are. Picking a target and establishing the principle will be more effective.

          • Jim__L

            I’m not sure that’s the best way forward, actually.

            Our politics are being poisoned by the “winner-take-all” mentality, the “punish the other” mentality. Your approach would go further down that road, and I don’t think that’s the best option.

          • Andrew Allison


  • Boritz

    How many of the 107 use or approve of the use of the term ‘denier’ as commonly used today? Glad to see them sticking to the rigorous application of science or whatever.

  • Blackbeard

    It’s not just anti-GMO agitation, the global Left is also anti-nuclear, anti-hydropower and anti-vaccine. They claim to be the pro science side but that’s only true when science supports their goals. They are guilty of tremendous evil, but since the media, the entertainment industry and academia all support them they pay no price.

    Perhaps when Trump is president he can RICO these villains.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Seeing how wrong they are on GMOs, it isn’t a stretch to consider they are wrong on “Global Warming”, where they are doing the same fear mongering to generate donations. Don’t get me wrong, cleaning up the Air, and Water pollution in America was a good thing, and even protecting genetic diversity by protecting animals from becoming extinct was useful if less so. But these efforts succeeded, and now here’s the big environmentalist industry, without a cause de jure because they worked themselves out of job.

  • Fifty Ville

    Kill them all and let Gaia sort them out.

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