For years Greenpeace has been a big name when it comes to the environment. With a budget of approximately $263 million, Greenpeace operates all around the world.
For quite some time now, Greenpeace has been strongly advocating against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). They have a section on their website dedicated to establishing their understanding on the subject. These are two quotes taken from passages on this section:
"Their release is 'genetic pollution' and is a major threat because GMOs cannot be recalled once released into the environment."
"When we force life forms and our world's food supply to conform to human economic models rather than their natural ones, we do so at our own peril."
Clearly, Greenpeace is a strong advocate against production of GMOs and their uses. While the concern is understandable, one hundred and ten Nobel prize winners have come together to advocate in favor of GMOs.
Of these there are 25 Nobel Prize winner in Physics, 34 in Chemistry, 41 in Medicine, eight in Economics, one in Literature, and one in Peace.
This past week, these 110 Nobel laureates have signed a letter titled, "Laureates Letter Supporting Precision Agriculture (GMOs)". The letter is meant directly for Greenpeace, urging them to reconsider their opposition to such a needed development.
The letter starts by firmly stating the following:
"The United Nations Food & Agriculture Program has noted that global production of food, feed and fiber will need approximately to double by 2050 to meet the demands of a growing global population. Organizations opposed to modern plant breeding, with Greenpeace at their lead, have repeatedly denied these facts and opposed biotechnological innovations in agriculture."
Certainly, the author(s) of this letter had no hesitation in calling out Greenpeace and those opposing GMOs. The letter expresses the legitimate concern for the ever-growing global demand for food in the next few years.
The letter goes on to explain why GMOs are the answer and advocates for their benefits and uses:
"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."
To understand the seriousness of the topic the letter looks at vitamin A deficiency (VAD). Data presented in the letter states that VAD is a disease that has claimed the lives of millions of people, mostly the poor in Africa and Southeast Asia. Over 250 million people suffer from VAD, including 40 percent of kids under the age of five in developing countries.
What is surprising about this is that every year approximately one to two million people die as a result of VAD; deaths which could have been prevented. Now, the Nobel laureates are convinced through science and statistics that further deaths by VAD can be prevented through use of GMOs.
GoldenRice is an organization that aims to accomplish this by using using genetically modified rice. The rice has been modified and grown so it can synthesize and store beta-carotene which is a precursor to vitamin A. This does not occur in naturally grown rice.
GoldenRice uses rice because in these countries rice composes about 80 percent of a daily diet. However, since rice lacks important nutrients such as vitamin A there is such an increased number of cases of VAD. By providing these people with rice that can now produce the vitamin there is virtually no change in their diet, but they are healthier and VAD incidences are reduced.
The letter closes with a call to Greenpeace to stop their anti-GMOs campaign, specially against GoldenRice, and to the governments of the world to reject said campaign and champion the cause for GMOs. The letter concludes by stating:
How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a "crime against humanity"?