More than 100 Nobel Prize Laureates have signed a letter urging Greenpeace and its supporters to “cease and desist” their campaign against genetically modified organisms or GMOs.
They say that GMO opponents have “repeatedly denied” facts about how much food the world’s growing population will need and that they have “misrepresented [GMO] risks, benefits, and impacts, and supported the criminal destruction of approved field trials and research projects,” despite the fact that scientists have repeatedly found that GMOs are safe.
Specifically, the signatories (110 at the moment; 41 who won for medicine, 25 for physics, and 34 for chemistry) want Greenpeace to stop campaigning against Golden Rice, along with other food improved with biotechnology.
Golden Rice isn’t necessarily ready for mass planting yet, but it could potentially eliminate a disease that 250 million people suffer from by providing additional nutrients to people who suffer from vitamin A deficiency.
Here’s the full text of the letter:
“To the Leaders of Greenpeace, the United Nations and Governments around the world
The United Nations Food & Agriculture Program has noted that global production of food, feed and fibre will need approximately to double by 2050 to meet the demands of a growing global population. Organisations opposed to modern plant breeding, with Greenpeace at their lead, have repeatedly denied these facts and opposed biotechnological innovations in agriculture. They have misrepresented their risks, benefits, and impacts, and supported the criminal destruction of approved field trials and research projects.
We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognise the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against “GMOs” in general and Golden Rice in particular.
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.
Greenpeace has spearheaded opposition to Golden Rice, which has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by a vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which has the greatest impact on the poorest people in Africa and Southeast Asia.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 250 million people, suffer from VAD, including 40 per cent 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”?
In response, Greenpeace provided the following statement to Joel Achenbach, who broke the story at The Washington Post:
“Accusations that anyone is blocking genetically engineered ‘Golden’ rice are false. ‘Golden’ rice has failed as a solution and isn’t currently available for sale, even after more than 20 years of research. As admitted by the International Rice Research Institute, it has not been proven to actually address Vitamin A Deficiency. So to be clear, we are talking about something that doesn’t even exist.
“Corporations are overhyping ‘Golden’ Rice to pave the way for global approval of other more profitable genetically engineered crops. This costly experiment has failed to produce results for the last 20 years and diverted attention from methods that already work. Rather than invest in this overpriced public relations exercise, we need to address malnutrition through a more diverse diet, equitable access to food and eco-agriculture.”
The nonprofit also argued that it was working on alternate approaches to malnutrition. Greenpeace’s full statement is here.
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