Science & Technology

Greenpeace Activism Kills Kids


Bjorn Lomborg, head of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, writes in his latest column, "A Golden Rice Opportunity," a terrific indictment of Greenpeace's homicidal activism against the development and deployment of vitamin-A enriched Golden Rice. Golden Rice is a genetically enhanced variety developed by Swiss researcher Ingo Potrykus and his colleagues with the aim of addressing the serious health problem of vitamin A defiency in poor countries whose citizens chiefly consume rice. Back in 2000, I asked, "Where is the Golden Rice?," and the answer was that it was being protected in grenade-proof greenhouses in Switzerland to prevent its destruction by anti-biotech vandals. As I noted 13 years ago:

Greenpeace is leading a global campaign against biotech crops, asserting that they are unhealthy and environmentally unsafe. A press release says that "Greenpeace opposes golden rice because it has all the risks of any [genetically modified] crop."

The lies and anti-science activism of environmentalist groups like Greenpeace have delayed for more than a decade the day when this life-saving crop could be offered to poor farmers in developing countries and the result is that millions of children have died who might otherwise have been saved by this technology. As Lomborg reports:

Three billion people depend on rice as their staple food, with 10% at risk for vitamin A deficiency, which, according to the World Health Organization, causes 250,000-500,000 children to go blind each year. Of these, half die within a year. A study from the British medical journal The Lancet estimates that, in total, vitamin A deficiency kills 668,000 children under the age of five each year.

Yet, despite the cost in human lives, anti-GM campaigners – from Greenpeace to Naomi Klein – have derided efforts to use golden rice to avoid vitamin A deficiency. In India, Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist and adviser to the government, called golden rice "a hoax" that is "creating hunger and malnutrition, not solving it."…

To be sure, handing out vitamin pills or adding vitamin A to staple products can make a difference. But it is not a sustainable solution to vitamin A deficiency. And, while it is cost-effective, recent published estimates indicate that golden rice is much more so.

Supplementation programs costs $4,300 for every life they save in India, whereas fortification programs cost about $2,700 for each life saved. Both are great deals. But golden rice would cost just $100 for every life saved from vitamin A deficiency…

Now, finally, golden rice will come to the Philippines; after that, it is expected in Bangladesh and Indonesia. But, for eight million kids, the wait was too long.

True to form, Greenpeace is already protesting that "the next 'golden rice' guinea pigs might be Filipino children." The 4.4 million Filipino kids with vitamin A deficiency might not mind so much. 

Shame, shame, shame on Greenpeace, Vandana Shiva, Naomi Klein and all other anti-science fellow travelers!