Monday, March 7, 2016

Greenpeace: Twenty Years of Terror

By Stephan Neidenbach -
Edited by Nandu Nandini

October 1996

"The reason we're doing this is to demonstrate the hazard of genetically manipulated food products," Tzeporah Berman told reporters. At the time Berman was a spokeswoman for Greenpeace, and she was explaining why 30 biotechnology opponents from her organization trespassed onto a test plot in Iowa to destroy research and begin terrorizing scientists. An entire year of research was destroyed as the anti-science activists trampled crops and spray painted the plants to form a giant "X" with the words "Biohazard Monsanto". These people were neither locals from Iowa, nor even necessarily from the United States. Wolfgang Pekny was flown in from Austria. A month before, Greenpeace had made attacking this breeding method of seed one of their top three priorities. A press conference in Germany was held announcing an alliance of NGOs, including Friends of the Earth. "The campaign also spanned the Atlantic, as on 7th October 1996 Jeremy Rifkin's Foundation on Economic Trends and Greenpeace in the USA, launched an international alliance of more than 300 consumer, health, trade and agricultural organizations from 48 countries into a campaign for boycott of the Monsanto soya and Ciba-Giegy‟s maize." 

So began Greenpeace's war on science. Many people dislike the term anti-science, especially when used to describe Greenpeace, because of their stance on climate change. Their web page accurately states that, "There is, in fact, a broad and overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, is caused in large part by human activities...". But this is really just cherry picking on their part, because they oppose many viable solutions to climate change like nuclear power and genetic engineering.

July 1999

"I'm doing this for environmental reasons. The spray I use on my conventional crops is far less friendly than what I use on this crop. I wanted to trial these crops to see if there were any downsides," William Brigham, whose family has farmed the same land for 300 years near Norfolk in the United Kingdom, attempted to reason with Greenpeace when they came to destroy his crops. In prior years his herbicide of choice was atrazine, far more risky to the environment than the Liberty herbicide his test plot was resistant to. This attack was led by Peter Mond, executive director of Greenpeace UK from 1989 to 2002. The British judicial system later let this family farm down, as all 28 criminals were acquitted of their crimes. The quacks and practitioners of pseudoscience that Greenpeace managed to parade in front of the jury managed to convince them that Greenpeace's "good intentions" outweighed the rights of the Brigham family to feel safe on their own property.

"You know what slurry is? Well it comes from the back of a cow. Two thousand gallons we put on that and just two pints of Liberty [the herbicide made by AgrEvo of which the crops are engineered to be tolerant]. If that's not ****** organic, then what is?" Though Greenpeace got off the hook, the Brigham brothers at the very least got their licks in. During the vandalism Eddie Brigham got on his tractor with a bucket and began ramming the Greenpeace mowers, whacking as many raiders as he could with his bucket of choice. I am not one to romanticize the past, but this is one moment in time I wish I could visit.

April 2003

Germany was finally ready to allow trials of genetically modified wheat. Receiving approval, Syngenta made plans to plant their seeds, which were resistant to fungus in order to decrease the need for fungicide, in Thuringia. Greenpeace couldn't accept the idea and contaminated the land, making it unusable for the trial. Taking the idea of their own myths about contamination, they planted organic wheat seed all over the test fields so Syngenta would not be able to distinguish the biotech wheat from Greenpeace's.

July 2004

One of the greatest success stories involving biotech crops is the papaya. Widely adopted in Hawaii, this corporation free fruit saved the papaya industry there when the Papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) had hopped islands by 1995. Varieties of the disease resistant papaya have been developed for Brazil, Jamaica, Venezuela, Thailand, China, and The Philippines. First observed in 1975, PRSV is the single greatest barrier to widespread successful commercial papaya production in Thailand.  Two Thai scientists traveled to Cornell University in 1995 to develop their own disease resistant papaya.

"Between 2001 and 2004, six sets of experiments were conducted that showed no ecological effects of GE papaya on adjacent non-GE trees, microbial flora, beneficial insects, or the surrounding soil. No differences in nutritional quality were found, no allergenic proteins or toxic attributes were observed, and rats fed GE papaya did not show any abnormalities"
 The proven safety of the papaya was not enough to deter Greenpeace. Activists descended on a field in Northeast Thailand with the aim of destroying years of work by scientists. Proudly posing for photographs they ripped the fruit from the trees, throwing them into bins marked "biohazard." After winning courtroom battles, Greenpeace would later convince the government to end the trials and destroy all of the research.

September 2007

In many countries where biotech crops have yet to be approved, a black market was developed to meet the demands of the farmers. They want this technology, but it is being denied to them by NGOs like Greenpeace who put pressure on their government and spread fear in the cities where the decisions get made. One such black market was developed in Romania. Biotech seeds were being smuggled in, saved by farmers, and sold without any corporation receiving profits.

Testing Tractor at GE Decontamination Station
One would think that anti-globalization movements would approve of this. What better way to stick it to Monsanto other than to use their product without paying for it? Greenpeace decided to attack the farmers instead of the corporation. Thirty members of Greenpeace from all over Europe flocked to Braila Island, where they took control of the ferry harbor and set up their own "decontamination station" forcing residents to pass through their inspections.

February 2011

Greenpeace moves to decontaminate Bt eggplant field trial site in the PhilippinesOn the morning of February 17, technician Noel Lawas was getting ready for work at the University of the Philippines Institute for Plant Breeding, when a guard informed him that people had broken into the plantation. It would be estimated that Greenpeace members Daniel M. Ocampo, Aileen Camille Dimatatac, Adrian N. Dagondon, Benjean May Tolosa, Raymond Berongay, Don Florentino, Shivani Shah, Ali Abbas, Ricky Morales, Eyesha Endar and Rhoda Armoda caused more than $500,000 in damages and destroyed many years of research. This publicly funded project would then later see great success in Bangladesh where farmers are seeing dramatic decreases in insecticide usage.

July 2011

Scientists in Australia developed a new strain of wheat with a lower glycemic index and increased fiber content to improve bowel health. With human trials only six months away, three Greenpeace activists destroyed the entire crop. Jessica Latona and Heather McCabe, two of the vandals, later issued a joint statement after their sentencing. "GM is not proven safe to eat. The only thing we are sure about is that it’s a major threat to our environment.” This was simply another attempt by Greenpeace to destroy testing so they can continue to claim a lack of testing.

Summer 2012

“24 children used as guinea pigs in genetically engineered ‘Golden Rice’ trial," screamed the press release put out by Greenpeace. Four years preceding this date 25 families in China had agreed to be part of a trial and allowed their children to consume what was described as a nutritionally enhanced rice. The study showed that 60% of the vitamin A that children require could be supplied by this rice. After reading a summary of the published study showing the success of the research, Greenpeace immediately launched a fear campaign. Tufts University, which initially approved the informed consent form, went back and decided that the breeding method was not properly explained to the parents. Why would it be? Scientists are not used to thinking in those terms. If any other breeding method had been used it would have been irrelevant. The study ended up being retracted, even though the results were confirmed by the Tufts review board. According to the World Health Organization, "An estimated 250,000 to 500,000 vitamin A-deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their eyesight."

Moving Forward

Greenpeace has made it clear that the science is irrelevant, and in their war against food the ends justify the means. When asked if his opposition to biotechnology was "absolute and definite", rather than one that could be changed based on science, Lord Melchett responded that, "It is a permanent and definite and complete opposition." Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace, is on record stating that the group no longer operates, "wholly in the scientific domain." As recently as this week, Greenpeace has vowed to continue taking further action against biotech crops. Similar to how Monsanto acts based upon the whim of their shareholders, Greenpeace acts based upon the whim of its members and donors. Perhaps, the best way to fight them is by bringing them under more public scrutiny. October 10th, 2016  will be the 20th year anniversary of their first attack on food on which date I will lead a protest in front of their office in Washington, DC, calling on them to end their war against humanity. Greenpeace has offices around the world, I invite you to do the same everywhere. If you can, come to DC, join me here. If you are willing to protest at one of their offices elsewhere, send me details of the event planned and I will help promote it. All it takes for pseudoscience to win, is for science communicators to do nothing.

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