Do you remember in 2013 when a large group of angry farmers attacked and destroyed a field trial of genetically modified rice in the Philippines? It made headlines across the globe because GM rice has shown to have the potential to reduce Vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in many children living in the developing world.
We later learned that these attackers weren’t all farmers but in fact were mostly Greenpeace activists. Ironic since Greenpeace’s motto is to “change attitudes and behavior, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace.” The organization is a major leader in the anti-GMO movement and very verbal about it’s lack of support for the technology.
Well now the organization is back in the media spotlight. This past week more than 100 Nobel laureates signed a letter urging Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The Washington Post reported that the letter asks Greenpeace to cease its efforts to block introduction of a genetically engineered strain of rice that supporters say could reduce Vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in children in the developing world:
“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 letter states.
The Washington Post wrote that the letter campaign was organized by Richard Roberts, chief scientific officer of New England Biolabs and, with Phillip Sharp, the winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for the discovery of genetic sequences known as introns.
The campaign has a website, supportprecisionagriculture.org, that includes a running list of the signatories, and the group plans to hold a news conference Thursday morning at the National Press Club in Washington.
“We’re scientists. We understand the logic of science. It’s easy to see what Greenpeace is doing is damaging and is anti-science,” Roberts told The Washington Post. “Greenpeace initially, and then some of their allies, deliberately went out of their way to scare people. It was a way for them to raise money for their cause.”
Roberts said he endorses many other activities of Greenpeace, and said he hopes the group, after reading the letter, would “admit that this is an issue that they got wrong and focus on the stuff that they do well.”
…The list of signatories had risen to 107 names by Wednesday morning. Roberts said that, by his count, there are 296 living laureates.
Read here The Washington Post‘s article in its entirety. In response to the letter, Greenpeace stated that the release of GMOs into the natural world is a form of “genetic pollution.” Visit their site here to view their response in its entirety.