Greenpeace needs a new Chief Scientist

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Last night the BBC ran a decent Panorama show on GM foods. By showing a mix of rational, and less rational, voices it became clear that opposition to GM crops has run its course.

Opponents of this technology have had long enough to provide some actual evidence of GM crops being dangerous, and they have not done so. It is time for them to admit they were wrong.

However, it is not clear if many will. Here was Doug Parr, Greenpeace’s Chief Scientist/Chief Rationalizer of Dogma:

“If those who are cautious about it like us are wrong, the upshot will be a few years’ delay on some returns to shareholders for large international companies. If, on the other hand, the pushers are wrong then we’ve potentially changed our environment with uncertain consequences for both the ecology and for health, really for time immemorial.”

Let’s think about this for a second. Mr. Parr and Greenpeace have been proven wrong on this issue time and time again. They don’t provide a single shred of evidence of these supposed risks, yet they still bat on about them. This is no more than religious dogma.

Mr. Parr, of course, once stood in front of the Houses of Lords to tell. Some scientist, he is. And all the more galling when you realize this misguided individual had the chutzpah to help get Anne Glover, the EC’s Chief Scientist until recently, fired.

And as for the consequences of Greenpeace’s being wrong. Two words: Golden Rice.

Vitamin A deficiency results in blindness or death in hundreds of thousands of children each year. Golden rice has the potential to reduce these numbers significantly.

What does Greenpeace do when they see an innovation with such vast humanitarian promise? They campaign hard against it. Clearly they would prefer a blind or dead child to one that eats a genetically modified crop. Can you think of anything more reprehensible?

Perhaps you can. Not only does Greenpeace oppose golden rice, it also claims there are health risks associated with it. What is the balance of risks exactly? The risk of blindness and death versus those that exist purely in the imagination of Greenpeace activists? The choice is easy, and it is high time we stopped treating Greenpeace so uncritically. Irrational opposition to technologies can be dressed up in the garb of the precautionary principle, but is what it is: irrational.


8 thoughts on “Greenpeace needs a new Chief Scientist

    donoughshanahan said:
    June 9, 2015 at 6:36 pm


    I am no expert but did the green revolution often associated with Norman Borlaug use genetic engineering?


    mem_somerville (@mem_somerville) said:
    June 10, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    So here’s something interesting from this piece, but not directly GMO related. I just had a chance to watch the US-accessible version here last night:

    Stephen Tindale says this, around 14min:

    Everything within Greenpeace is decided centrally, by Greenpeace International. It’s a top-down organization.

    How were they able to blame some kind of sub-contractor for the Nazca damage? Lying liars.


    AssyaMir (@assyamb) said:
    June 12, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    I completely agree. GM foods have huge potential to feed a growing population in future conditions which will make growing food more difficult. Question: what do you make of the EU’s opposition to GM foods?


    Tom said:
    June 15, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    This concern about Vitamin A deficiency would be a lot more convincing if it surfaced at any time when people weren’t trying to push a particular product. It’s alarming how little thought is given by such people to the actual reasons why people aren’t able to access Vitamin A in they way the rest of us are – through a healthy, balanced diet.


      Robert Wilson said:
      June 15, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      Let them eat a healthy, balanced diet.


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