Greenpeace Crusade Will Blind and Kill Children

One hundred Nobel laureates agree: The campaign against biotech-enhanced golden rice is a "crime against humanity."


Greenpeace and other anti-biotech activist groups have logged a win in a crusade that could ultimately blind and kill thousands of children annually. How? By persuading the Court of Appeals of the Philippines to issue a scientifically ignorant and morally hideous decision to ban the planting of vitamin A–enriched golden rice. The objective result will be more children blinded and killed by vitamin A deficiency.

The World Health Organization estimates that 250,000–500,000 children who are vitamin A–deficient become blind every year, and half of them die within 12 months of losing their sight. In addition, children with immune systems weakened by vitamin A deficiency have an increased risk of illness and death from infectious diseases.

The court also banned the planting of an eggplant variety that has been biotech-enhanced to resist insect pests. The same variety approved by Bangladeshi regulators has reduced pesticide usage and improved farmers' yields by more than 50 percent.

In their press release, Greenpeace activists crowed, "The Court of Appeals has essentially put a moratorium on these genetically modified crops."

Golden rice was developed by a Swiss nonprofit group in 1999 by adding genes from corn and common bacteria to produce the vitamin A precursor nutrient beta carotene. It is the beta carotene that endows the nutritionally enhanced rice with its golden hue. The decision is scientifically ignorant because after evaluating numerous food health and safety studies, regulators across the globe—including those in the U.S., New Zealand, Canada, and Australia—have found that the biotech-enhanced rice is as safe to eat as any other variety of rice.

The court's decision is morally hideous because it blocks the safe and efficient delivery of this sorely needed nutrient to vitamin A–deficient Filipino children whose diets are heavily dependent on rice. Nearly 17 percent of Filipino children between 6–59 months old are vitamin A–deficient.

The court's ruling reverses the Philippine Department of Agriculture's decision to allow farmers to plant golden rice back in 2021. Of course, Greenpeace then denounced the approval and "called on Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar to reverse the decision."

As I reported in 2021:

Back in 2016, a group of 100 Nobel Laureates issued an open letter to Greenpeace demanding that the anti-technology activist group "cease and desist in its campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general." The laureates pointed out that "scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production. There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption. Their environmental impacts have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment, and a boon to global biodiversity."

The laureates' letter ended:

WE CALL UPON GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD to reject Greenpeace's campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general; and to do everything in their power to oppose Greenpeace's actions and accelerate the access of farmers to all the tools of modern biology, especially seeds improved through biotechnology. Opposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped.

How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a "crime against humanity"(emphasis theirs)?

"If not a prosecutable crime, Greenpeace's decades-long campaign against modern crop biotechnology is a disgraceful disservice to their fellow human beings," I wrote at the time.

Sadly, Greenpeace's morally and scientifically bankrupt campaign against the health of children has notched another despicable victory.