As The Washington Post reports, 107 Nobel laureates have signed a letter blasting Greenpeace for opposing the deployment of a GMO rice which would help fix a dreaded condition, vitamin A deficiency (VAD). As the letter states:
“The World Health Organization estimates that 250 million people suffer from 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.”
Sounds pretty serious! So what does Greenpeace have against “Golden Rice,” the GMO strain that is proposed to deal with this preventable catastrophe? The same letter also states:
“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 simple fact of the matter is that humans have been modifying their environment — animal and vegetal — for millennia. There’s no such thing as a wild cow, or a wild pig, or a wild shih-tzu. Wheat and corn, as we know them, bear almost no resemblance to their wild and distant ancestors.
There’s nothing new, unusual, or dangerous about GMOs and all the science confirms it (just like global warming). And yet a strong and vocal fringe in some advanced countries, are opposed to GMOs. In the U.S. it’s still relatively a fringe phenomenon, but in Europe, particularly France, it is very much part of the mainstream discussion.
But the extreme environmentalists have a long history of damaging hostility to evidence, a hostility which has cost many, many lives over the decades. Here is an example. In the infamous case of DDT, this miraculous insect-killer eliminated malaria, as well as many other insect-borne diseases, from the Southern United States, Southern Europe, and parts of South Asia, and was poised to do the same thing to Africa until it was banned by the US in 1972 on unscientific grounds as stated by the National Academy of Sciences.
The Academy stated: “To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT. It has contributed to the great increase in agricultural productivity, while sparing countless humanity from a host of diseases, most notably, perhaps, scrub typhus and malaria. Indeed, it is estimated that, in little more than [a period of] two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million deaths due to malaria that would otherwise have been inevitable.”
In 1962, Rachel Carson‘s book Silent Spring was published. It cataloged the environmental impacts of widespread DDT spraying in the United States and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of potentially dangerous chemicals into the environment without understanding their effects on the environment or human health. One book set off an anti-DDT frenzy to ban DDT in the US within 10 ten years and globally a few years later. The ban has been credited for the recovery of the American Bald Eagle and the reemerging of virus carrying mosquitoes. Now we are killing the bold eagle again, this time with huge wind turbines. Catch-22.
Another example of Greenpeace damaging hostility is my favorite topic; nuclear energy, which has almost no carbon emissions and works safely. Opposition to nuclear power is mostly motivated by superstition or the perception of fear created by the environmentalist based on pre-historic data that has never been updated.
Environmentalism sometimes has a little trace of a death cult and they look at the world with those ridiculously insane predictions of Armageddon that scientists made in the 1970s, warning that we would all be dead, or something like it, by the year 2000, if we didn’t shut down nuclear power plants and oil wells right this minute. Well, what happened?
The radical environmentalists like Greenpeace actually have an anti-human worldview, one that views the Earth goddess as the only valuable “life-form” and humans as parasites. DDT was fine and Nuclear power is fine and Golden Rice will be fine. What is not fine is how a few people in the right places can turn the whole world society completely up side down.
However, some of the disorder is actually creating new order. Now there are pro-nuclear climate scientists and environmentalists that are expressing their concerns for climate change solutions through nuclear energy. Their open letter to all environmentalist [especially you Greenpeace] states:
“As climate and energy scientists concerned with global climate change, we are writing to urge you to advocate the development and deployment of safer nuclear energy systems. We appreciate your organization’s concern about global warming, and your advocacy of renewable energy. But continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change.”
I personally advocate nuclear energy for the sake of efficient and sustainable electric power. Hey, and it’s environmentally clean too. If there were ever an advance nuclear addendum on a climate change bill in Congress (not likely though), I am okay with that too. I would consider myself a pro-nuclear environmentalist if that is what it would take to move forward with nuclear energy.