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Greenpeace – Good, bad or ugly?

I thought I’d make this blog post a little more interesting with something that may polarise many readers. I ask Greenpeace – Good, bad or ugly?

Greenpeace markets itself as a guardian of the Earth, its people, animals and environment. And for the most part I would agree that it does great work, but I feel that it can be a bit of a scaremonger at times.

My biggest bugbear is the campaign against genetic engineering. The level of misinformation that Greenpeace would have you believe is staggering. I would like to run through the key points that are presented in this video

  1. Greenpeace wants you to believe: scientists mush the genetic makeup of different organisms together like play dough and sell to the world the resulting Frankenstein.
    Reality: scientist’s usually only transfer a single, well studied gene and the transgenic plant must undergo rigorous safety testing – much more than any new type of plant produced by selective breeding (the traditional method). Selective breeding a process used by all growers and is as simple as selecting the best seeds to replant for next year’s crops. This may seem harmless yet is also genetic manipulation and far more uncontrolled than that of genetic engineering.
  2. Greenpeace wants you to believe: GE crops require more and higher potency pesticides and herbicides.
    Reality: Roundup Ready plants (which make up a majority of grown GE plants) reduced the need for harsh pesticides by allowing farmers to use glyphosate, a low toxic herbicide which degrades quickly, by making the farmers plants protected. This has greatly improved yields and reduced costs of production lowering the cost of these crops.
  3. Greenpeace wants you to believe: genetically engineered crops do not improve yields and contribute to deforestation.
    Reality: In 2008 alone, GE increased yields of maize, soy, cotton and canola collectively by 30 metric tonnes, which would have required over 10 million additional hectares to produce.

To end this blog post and my rant, I would like to bring up golden rice. Golden Rice was an initiative to improve the nutrition of some of the world’s poorest by making a rice which would produce vitamin A -a key deficiency in Africa and India. Despite its good intentions Greenpeace and other protest groups have denounced it saying it does not do enough to improve the nutrition. Less than a year ago a field trial in the Philippines had the crops destroyed by protestors. Click here to read more about Golden Rice and please feel free to comment below.