Stop Jeopardizing the Health of Children with Anti-GMO Stance

Golden_Rice_International_Rice_Research_Institute

Target: Greenpeace CEO Bunny McDiarmid

Goal: Reform Greenpeace’s anti-GMO status to reflect proven science and stop exacerbating food shortages and vitamin deficiencies in the developing world.

The environmental organization Greenpeace International has long been the most active environmental organization in the world but has recently come under fire for their potentially harmful attacks on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Greenpeace’s opposition to GM crops has incited controversy and caused leading biologists and scientists to question the benefits of the organization, despite its good intentions.

Greenpeace came under fire in 2011 when activists broke into an Australian research center and destroyed a crop of wheat. The organization has caused issue once again by standing in the way of new crops of “Golden Rice” in the developing world. This genetically modified strain of rice is rich in Vitamin A, which counteracts Vitamin A deficiencies across Africa. Lack of this nutrient in this diet leads to blindness in 250,000 to 500,000 children every year in the developing world. The solution has been found and yet Greenpeace chooses to stand in the way instead of helping the poverty-stricken individuals in need.

In an open letter to Greenpeace, 107 Nobel Laureates urged the organization to stop their attacks on GMOs and Golden Rice in particular. The letter explains 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.”

Scientific misinformation regarding genetically modified crops runs deep among well-meaning environmentalists but rarely causes this level of harm to people of developing nations around the world. Please sign the petition below to stand with the world’s top scientists and tell Greenpeace the health of children is more important than uneducated decisions made on political principle.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mrs. McDiarmid,

While most of Greenpeace International’s work has been a great service to protecting the environment from human activity, the recent anti-GMO and anti-science stance taken by the organization is not only irrational, but denying help to millions in need in the developing world.

I’m sure you’re aware of the open letter recently penned to the organization by over 100 Nobel laureates. I am writing to commend their activism and to stand with them in pushing for more rational decisions to be made, and ultimately a more nutritious and environmentally safe diet for the people of the world. Golden Rice in particular has been developed to counteract Vitamin A deficiencies that cause up to 500,000 children each year to go blind, yet your organization stands in the way of this progress.

If Greenpeace is successful in denying revolutionary crops such as Golden Rice to the developing world, it is effectively responsible for causing these children to go blind in a massive violation of human rights. I am urging you to please reconsider this unscientific and harmful ideology and join rather than oppose this revolutionary progress.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: International Rice Research Institute

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14 Comments

  1. Caryn Cowin says:

    How did a petition like this get on this site?!?!? Do we have Monsanto shills operating here? DON’T SIGN THIS, PEOPLE!!!

    • Matt Winkler Matt Winkler says:

      Because it’s about time rational minded people stand up to anti-science ignoramuses responsible for three hundred thousand children going blind each year.

      Because all life has DNA and genetic modification only alters this DNA, and adds no “toxins” or whatever organic nonsense you might believe.

      Because crops were formerly altered by blasting them with radiation and picking mutations that looked good, and now we have a very precise scientific method to selectively improve only the alleles we understand and want to improve.

      Because all life on Earth is genetically modified; everything from marijuana use to sunlight to age alter DNA, and this particular method of genetic modification is simply guiding crops in a direction beneficial for human use.

      Because genetically modified crops are hardier and resistant to pests, thus needing less pesticides which ARE harmful to the environment, and runoff into lakes and kill wildlife.

      Because crops can be genetically modified to grow using less fertilizer which runs off and causes rampant algae that smothers aquatic life.

      Because crops can be genetically modified to produce more in less land, meaning less forests burned and cleared for cropland.

      Because the cost of your ignorance is damning the environment you claim to be championing.

  2. That GMOs are a benefit is shortterm thinking. F.ex. new studies show that toxines of GMOs are harmful to human health. Behind the GMOs are companies with interest in increasing their capital, their intention wrapped in allegedly benevolence for the humanity.

  3. Matt Winkler Matt Winkler says:

    Katja, (Replied here because using the reply feature makes very narrow columns)

    1) “naturalsociety.com” is not a reputable science source. I hope you can recognize why I feel that the word of over 100 Nobel prize-winning biologists might weigh more heavily in my opinion than a click-bait website.

    But why would they lie? Because a) they are not better educated themselves or b) because media is necessarily polarizing. I understood from the start that it would be much easier to write an article claiming “All GMO’s are bad and humans are bad and nature is good because toxins”, but the reality of the issue is of course more complex and my conscience wouldn’t allow for trash journalism, even if easier.

    2) These articles inevitably point to vague “toxins” and use a word salad of chemical names to make things sound bad. More often than not, there is some science included showing health detriments caused by “toxins” found in… pesticides. Both links shared in these comments point to insecticides sprayed on GM crops. Which neglects to mention that insecticides are sprayed on most non-GM crops as well.

    The problem here is a deliberate obfuscation of science by throwing genetic modification and pesticide sprays into the same category, when there is no similarity except that both are often involved in growing crops. Everything is made of DNA, and DNA is modified by just about everything as well to some degree.
    The only difference with GM crops is that they are modified in a controlled lab setting where particular aspects of the organism are tweaked, as opposed to the “organic” method of shuffling around DNA between growing seasons and hoping something works.
    Is there something wrong with shuffling around DNA? No… except that it’s terribly inefficient at creating specific solutions such as a lack of Vitamin A causing 300,000 children to go blind annually.

    In response to the link about farmer suicides, that’s obviously a problem with monopoly power. That is a problem and a problem requiring a government trust-buster willing to step in and limit monopoly power… but is irrelevant to the science at hand.

    Here’s the thing. For the first time in human history, we have an understanding of how the inner mechanisms of DNA function and a safe, highly controllable way of interacting with that function.
    “Organic” purists sat mostly silent for decades while crops were literally blasted with radiation in nuclear reactors to hope for random helpful mutations not crippled by fatal mutations. Now we have a safe and precise method of controlling variables, and the “organic” crowd suddenly decides there is a problem. I don’t feel I should need to comment on that.

    “I think it is not up to us humans to interfere with the DNA” The problem with this statement is ignorance to how humans shape the DNA of the world through every action through natural and artificial selection. As long as humans, or any plants or animals exist, their DNA is in flux, and they are affecting the course of DNA change alongside them. This is an unstoppable fact of life, and it’s actually a good thing as well. This constant change is what makes life possible in the first place, after all. GM techniques are simply using a precise method for precise outcomes to shape this in a way that can help human existence, and human cohabitation with the land as well. Do a little more research into how GM crops require less pesticides and you’ll find that they benefit the environment on the whole. It’s not a zero-sum game – humans and nature can benefit together from the discoveries of science, unless we are paralyzed by fear and ignorance.

    “Organic farming” means feeding a dozen people with land that could feed a thousand. Obstructing that in the name of disreputable science is a human rights violation in my opinion. I understand that you mean well but I hope you and many others study biology more intensively before taking positions that inadvertently cause such human suffering.

    • You: Is there something wrong with shuffling around DNA?

      In my opinion, yes. I think there is a a limit we humans should interfere with life. I think it is a difference between changing naturally or by interference by us.

      It seems as if the GMO are the only cure for the lack of vitamin A.

      Those people have a lack of vitamin A because they are too poor to purchase food with vitamin A (vegetables) and fat (transporting vitamin A). In my opinion here is a challenge: how they get better and healthier food! This is as a matter of fact an economical problem.

      You: Organic farming is not as efficient as other farming = doesn’t feed as many people as the other one.

      I think the solution is not monoculture farming – unpredictable interacting with change of climate – but a natural, sustainable farming. All people should have access to the newest knowledge of how to treat the ground without leaching out, knowledge how to save water in farming, how to store the food more properly and so on.

      And at least: overpopulation. A subject of birth control…

      • Matt Winkler Matt Winkler says:

        “In my opinion, yes.”
        That’s okay, you’re entitled to your opinion. As I explained above, however, we change the DNA in ourselves and in the world through every action and interaction already. I think your opposition is an intuitive “feeling”, not with a rational reason.

        “Those people have a lack of vitamin A because they are too poor to purchase food with vitamin A”
        I’m an economics major. I certainly understand that being poor is a reason for a lack of vitamin A. You’re missing the point that these crops are both cheaper and more nutritious. By dismissing it as an “economic” problem, you’ll just let people starve and go blind until the world becomes richer through other means. We don’t have to do that because we have the solution at our hands now and we can end much suffering by becoming more productive.

        ” the solution is not monoculture farming – unpredictable interacting with change of climate – but a natural, sustainable farming. All people should have access to the newest knowledge of how to treat the ground without leaching out, knowledge how to save water in farming, how to store the food more properly and so on.”
        That’s all fine… but entirely, completely missing the point. Nothing about genetically modifying crops to become more nutritious implies monoculture farming. Nothing about GM crops means we forget how to store food properly. Again, it’s not a “tit for tat” zero-sum, one or the other sort of bargain – these are all solutions, most of which work together. Completely missing the point at hand.

        “And at least: overpopulation. A subject of birth control…”
        That is again an entirely different topic.

  4. About missing the point… oh no, I got the point. But I try to explore other options respectively I try to get to the bottom of the problem (problem = deficiency of vitamin A and not enough food for all humans).

    • Matt Winkler Matt Winkler says:

      If you’re not missing the point, then you’re at least not addressing it.

      “But I try to explore other options respectively”
      And I’m not? That’s not only untrue, it’s fairly insulting. I agree about crop rotation, water conservation, storing food properly, of course, who doesn’t? By “explore other options” you certainly seem to mean “deliberately avoid a single option based on well-meaning-but-ultimately-unscientific misinformation”. Explain to me one instance of a person falling ill or being harmed because of genetically modified food. One instance. Not pesticides on the crops or some trash science website making up clickbait, but a single instance where genetic modification has caused a proven problem.

      I suppose you love “natural” “organic” wheat and corn. Wheat in its “natural” form is a triploid spliced from three grasses by millenia of human domestication. All corn that comes anywhere close to what you see in a grocery store has been genetically modified for centuries. Corn in its “natural” state is roughly the size of a finger. Genetic modification is constant and everywhere. I’m not saying this to scare you – just the opposite: the trend of calling genetic modification “scary” and “toxic” is a recent scare campaign popularized by the rather profitable “organic” farming industry and propagated by well-meaning but scientifically ignorant middle-upper class Westerners, to the detriment of primarily the starving masses on the other side of the world.

      “(problem = deficiency of vitamin A and not enough food for all humans)”
      Yes. Genetically modified crops, as exemplified here, can be richer in Vitamin A and grow faster, producing more edible product in less land to feed everyone. That’s *exactly* the solution you’re looking for – the solution we’re all looking for.

      • Matt, I just explained my point of view. I didn’t accuse of not exploring other options.

        And one point is still not solved yet with this super food: the problem of lacking fat (animal or vegetable) to transport vitamin A,the problem people can not purchase it.

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