Scientists Call Out Greenpeace For Killing and Blinding Kids

Vitamin A blindnessUniversity of IowaGolden Rice has been genetically enhanced to produce vitamin A as way to prevent millions of deaths and cases of blindness annually in poor countries where the grain is the chief food staple. Back in August, some Filipino "farmers" rampaged through the fields where the non-profit International Rice Research institute was growing out the Golden Rice variety. The "farmers" were actually anti-biotech activists who have worked with Greenpeace in the past to block other biotech crop varieties.

Frankly, the scientific community has been too passive for way too long in confronting anti-biotech groups like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the Union of Concerned Scientists for their campaigns of lies against the safety of biotech crops. But the Golden Rice outrage has finally aroused researchers. Last week, Science magazine published a strong editorial, "Standing Up for GMOs," condemning activists for their anti-scientific attacks on crop biotechnology. From the statement:

If ever there was a clear-cut cause for outrage, it is the concerted campaign by Greenpeace and other nongovernmental organizations, as well as by individuals, against Golden Rice. Golden Rice is a strain that is genetically modified by molecular techniques (and therefore labeled a genetically modified organism or GMO) to produce β-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential component of the light-absorbing molecule rhodopsin in the eye. Severe vitamin A deficiency results in blindness, and half of the roughly half-million children who are blinded by it die within a year. Vitamin A deficiency also compromises immune system function, exacerbating many kinds of illnesses. It is a disease of poverty and poor diet, responsible for 1.9 to 2.8 million preventable deaths annually, mostly of children under 5 years old and women...

The rice has been ready for farmers to use since the turn of the 21st century, yet it is still not available to them. Escalating requirements for testing have stalled its release for more than a decade. IRRI and PhilRice continue to patiently conduct the required field tests with Golden Rice, despite the fact that these tests are driven by fears of “potential” hazards, with no evidence of actual hazards. Introduced into commercial production over 17 years ago, GM crops have had an exemplary safety record. And precisely because they benefit farmers, the environment, and consumers, GM crops have been adopted faster than any other agricultural advance in the history of humanity.

New technologies often evoke rumors of hazard. These generally fade with time when, as in this case, no real hazards emerge. But the anti-GMO fever still burns brightly, fanned by electronic gossip and well-organized fear-mongering that profits some individuals and organizations. We, and the thousands of other scientists who have signed the statement of protest, stand together in staunch opposition to the violent destruction of required tests on valuable advances such as Golden Rice that have the potential to save millions of impoverished fellow humans from needless suffering and death.

Hooray! It's great that researchers have finally called out Greenpeace and other anti-biotech activist groups for peddling and profiting from their lies. The research community needs to form an international committee of correpondence with the goal of responding with authoritative letters to the editor/producer and blog comments whenever and wherever anti-biotech activists spread their disinformation.

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  • anon||

    New technologies often evoke rumors of hazard. These generally fade with time when, as in this case, no real hazards emerge. But the anti-GMO fever still burns brightly, fanned by electronic gossip and well-organized fear-mongering that profits some individuals and organizations.

    Why, it almost sounds exactly like the climate change fearmongers.

  • ||

    It is the same crowd, same motivation, same tactics.

    There are too many people and they hate GM crops because they have the "potential to save millions of impoverished fellow humans from needless suffering and death."

    Look upon the face of pure evil.

  • ||

    The editors of Science are the "climate change fearmongers." Probably because that's based on sound science too.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cont.....5/435.full

  • SomeGuy||

    ding ding Anno wins this round. What about government shut down fearmongers too ^^

  • RBS||

    I guess dead adults don't count?
    -Ted S.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Maybe we can have a reality show called "Sclera Wars," where children's health activists go around harassing Greenpeace ships.

  • JW||

    We could hose down their ships with GMO grains. They'd flee at the first shot of seed.

  • Moe19||

    They would fear our Seamen.

  • RBS||

    Speaking of Greenpeace, wasn't one of their ships recently impounded in Russia on Piracy charges?

  • From the Tundra||

    Yep. Russians are holding 30 of them. Potential piracy charges.

    http://www.reuters.com/article.....9I20130929

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Someone over on Volokh is hissing a pitchy fit, saying the Greenpeacers were only trying to nonviolently hang a banner and it was an oil rig, not a boat, and it should only be trespassing at worst and the idea of being jailed for 60 days until trial is barbaric. Compares it to jailing Pussy Riot.

    I say suck it GreenPeace. Trying to board an oil rig is no different from boarding a boat, and why should the oil rig owners allow anyone to board and hang a banner anyway? Would it have been illegal and/or immoral for the oil rig owners to remove the banner after politely waiting for the GreenPacers to hang it and leave?

  • JW||

    The research community needs to form an international committee of correpondence with the goal of responding with authoritative letters to the editor/producer and blog comments whenever and wherever anti-biotech activists spread their disinformation.

    Having armed guards with questionable impulse control at the fields would help, as well.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    As long as the scientists are on a roll, they can continue by pointing out the millions who died from malaria due to DDT bans.

  • ||

    I was just thinking the same thing.

    Took my dog to the vet to get tested for heartworms recently. She told me that a Ivomectin-resistant strain of heartworm has appeared. I wonder why it took so long. In any case, she was worried because Ivomectin is the only treatment available.

    I said no, we could always blanket the state in DDT. She was horrified. She was under the impression that DDT was the equivalent of salting the earth. I explained that in fact, all the studies done on it, except for the rigged ones, showed it to be environmentally harmless. She was skeptical. I know she is going to look it up because I gave her all the right google words in my pitch.

    Later this week I am taking another dog in, we will see where she stands now.

  • widget||

    For whatever reason this reminds me of Shōgun, the part where Blackthorne saves his last slice of rotten apple longer than anyone else on the ship. The others have scurvy, he still has teeth. The mystery of chemicals.

  • Raston Bot||

    Didn't he take the maggots that ate his apple and rubbed them into his gums?

  • widget||

    I don't recall. That would make perfect sense though. The maggots ate the vitamins he needed.

  • Raston Bot||

    Aaron Goodman
    [edited for brevity] Science cannot tell us for certain that the increased incidences of asthma, autism, gluten intolerance and allergies are the direct result of genetically altering the food supply. And it cannot tell us that they are not, either.

    There are probably some theories but otherwise, Aaron, enjoy your AGW with a side of cognitive dissonance.

  • PD Scott||

    Since he's using unsubstantiated theories, I'll say it's because of government spending. As it has risen, it has subconsciously caused anxiety among adults which affects developing fetuses and children, leading to the conditions delineated.

  • Drake||

    I spent time in Sri Lanka in the mid-80's. I don't know if it was just a hybrid or actually a GMO, but everyone there was talking about how great "Wonder Rice" was. A type of rice with huge grains - 2 or 3 times bigger than what we are used to - that greatly increased farm output in a hungry country.

    Assholes trampling those crops would have been beaten to a pulp.

  • Bryan C||

    Greenpeace. I hate these guys.

  • ReasonableS||

    Saying Greenpeace is killing children with their opposition to the GMO rice doesn't seem reasonable. I believe the concern is that the rice while distributed for free now is based on intellectual property owned by corporations like Monsanto who have used the courts to force farmers to get their rice from them instead of saving part of their harvest to replant the next year. That is the reason that Haitians refused the offer of Roundup resistant corn and vegetable seeds.

    American farmers have had problems with Monsanto corn cross pollinating with their corn causing them to lose the rights to save their seeds when the genetic modifications migrate to their crop.

    There are other crops that could be made available for free to subsistent farmers that could provide vitamin A without the risk associated with the golden rice.

    It sounds like the golden rice has promise and the Filipinos need to reconsider their position, but I don't think this article provides a reasonable evaluation of the situation.

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