110 Nobel Laureates to Greenpeace: Stick with science, don’t block Golden Rice

Today, 107 Nobel Laureates have come together to call upon governments around the world to support and advance “genetic modification” technologies in agriculture and reject the fear-based campaigns opposing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) built upon falsehoods and denial.

The Laureates released  a strongly worded statement addressed “To the Leaders of Greenpeace, the United Nations and Governments around the world.”

In their words:

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 World Health Organization estimates that 250 million people suffer from [Vitamin A deficiency (VAD)], including 40 percent of the children under five in the developing world. Based on UNICEF statistics, a total of one to two million preventable deaths occur annually as a result of VAD, because it compromises the immune system, putting babies and children at great risk. VAD itself is the leading cause of childhood blindness globally affecting 250,000 – 500,000 children each year. Half die within 12 months of losing their eyesight.

We call upon Greenpeace to cease and desist in its campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general; 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’?

The website accompanying the release documents the global scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs (recently reaffirmed by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, and virtually every other authoritative scientific body on the planet). It also documents the abundant and widespread environmental and economic benefits confirmed by the experience of more than 18 million farmers around the world, the vast majority of them small farmers in developing countries.

Related article:  Greenpeace provokes India's ire: Crumbling credibility and waning power of global activist power

Other sections explain what GMOs are (describing them, more accurately, as a component of precision agriculture) and describe how scientists learned to make them by mimicking completely natural patterns of gene exchange found everywhere in nature. A section documents and corrects the false and misleading statements used by Greenpeace in its propaganda campaign to raise unwarranted fears and money to support its multinational organization, and the efforts of some governments to hold Greenpeace to account.

The Laureates’ website also documents former campaigners for Greenpeace and other environmental groups who examined the facts, discovered the truth, and broke with Greenpeace and other groups opposing innovation in agriculture, including Richard di Natale, Greenpeace Australia; Steven Tinsdale, Greenpeace UK; Patrick Moore, Greenpeace Canada & Greenpeace International; Mark Lynas, Greenpeace UK & the Soil Association; Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Catalogue & the Long Now Foundation; Bill Nye, the Science Guy; and Bizarro creator Dan Piraro. Additional materials provide further information from credible and independent third parties.

The organizing force behind this project is Sir Richard Roberts (Nobel Prize, 1993, Physiology or Medicine).

It is clearly past time for Greenpeace and others opposed to GMOs to follow the data and adopt a truly “green” and science-based position on genetic modification. The challenges facing society require a shift from political correctness to scientific correctness. Governments and other parties should do likewise.

This article originally appeared on Innovation Files as Nobel Laureates Condemn GMO Opposition, Urge Governments to Support “Genetic Modification” and was reposted with permission of the author.

Val Giddings is senior fellow at The Information and Technologies Innovation Center. He previously served as vice president for Food & Agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and as expert consultant to the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Bank, USDA, USAID, and companies, organizations and governments around the world. Follow him on twitter @prometheusgreen.

8 thoughts on “110 Nobel Laureates to Greenpeace: Stick with science, don’t block Golden Rice”

  1. Greenpeace is a medium-sized business with revenues of about half a billion dollars. Its business model is largely based on provoking fear and outrage, and it is hard to imagine that it would easily sacrifice this revenue stream.

    The first sentence of their page on GMOs reads:

    “Genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are threats to human and environmental health. The truth is, we don’t know enough about the effects of GMOs on people or the environment to be adding them to our diets.”

    It will take a lot of persuasion for GP to admit that they may not be the champions of “truth” that they claim to be.

  2. Just as with any type of science not all is good, and not all is bad. They need to see the error of their broad brush attack against ALL GMO’s. I hope they listen as GP has done many good things.

  3. “Greenpeace” is a fraud, and always have been. They are neither green nor peaceful. If they truly wished to save the earth by preventing further destruction they would get their heads turned around and fully support biotech. All they are accomplishing by their anti-GMO ranting is perpetuating unnecessary degradation of the environment via human activities involved with food and fiber production.

  4. RE: “Rogue GMO wheat in Washington State? Latest anti-GMO attempt to pump scare fizzles – [NOTE: No genetically modified (GMO) wheat has been found in a Washington state farm’s crop tested after an unapproved biotech variety was discovered growing there in June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on August 5.] – Val Giddings”

    Story is not open to comments.

    Original story: “No genetically modified (GMO) wheat has been found in a Washington state farm’s crop tested after an unapproved biotech variety was discovered growing there in June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday.”
    SOURCE: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-wheat-gmo-idUSKCN10G2AY

    Key words: “…an UNAPPROVED BIOTECH VARIETY WAS DISCOVERED growing there in June, THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE SAID…It was the third such finding since 2013”.

    “Monsanto told the Associated Press these wheat plants are a type that was evaluated in limited field trials in the Pacific Northwest from 1998 to 2001, but the variety was never approved – this is the third time in as many years that varieties of Monsanto’s GMO Roundup-ready wheat has cropped up in the area. In two of those cases, federal officials have no idea how the wheat got into the field or where else it might have spread to.”

    “We’ve dodged a similar bullet before with Klebsiella planticola, a soil bacteria that aggressively grows on plants’ roots – In the early 1990s, a European genetic engineering company was preparing to field test its genetically modified version of Klebsiella planticola, which it had tested in the lab and presumed to be safe. BUT IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE WORK OF A TEAM OF INDEPENDENT SCIENTISTS led by Elaine Ingham, that company could have literally killed every terrestrial plant on the planet.”

    “The story of Klebsiella planticola is a cautionary tale: part of why there is such staunch opposition to GMO products is that we really don’t know what the long-lasting impacts on our planet’s ecological balance could be. Meanwhile, the companies that are developing GMOs care more about making money by getting their products to market—and lobbying Congress to help them hide their products in plain sight—than they do about the safety of consumers or the planet.”
    SOURCE: http://www.alternet.org/food/how-one-gmo-nearly-took-down-planet

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