Because They Are Humanitarians

I used to scoff at how Ayn Rand turned the word "humanitarian" in the Fountainhead into a term of derision.  I didn't think it was justified to assume anyone adopting the humanitarian title had to be evil.  Surely, for example, Andrew Carnegie with his philanthropy and opposition to war could be considered a positive humanitarian?

But maybe she was on to something.  At least as far as Greenpeace is concerned:

According to the World Health Organization between 250,000 to 500,000 children become blind every year due to vitamin A deficiency, half of whom die within a year of becoming blind. Millions of other people suffer from various debilitating conditions due to the lack of this essential nutrient.[2]

Golden Rice is a genetically modified form of rice that, unlike conventional rice, contains beta-Carotene in the rice kernel. Beta-Carotene is converted to vitamin A in humans and is important for eyesight, the immune system, and general good health.[3] Swiss scientist and humanitarian Dr. Ingo Potrykus and his colleagues developed Golden Rice in 1998. It has been demonstrated in numerous studies that golden rice can eliminate vitamin A deficiency.[4]

Greenpeace and its allies have successfully blocked the introduction of golden rice for over a decade, claiming it may have “environmental and health risks” without ever elaborating on what those risks might be. After years of effort the Golden Rice Humanitarian Project, led by Dr. Potrykus, The Rockefeller Foundation and others were unable to break through the political opposition to golden rice that was generated directly by Greenpeace and its followers.[5]

To their credit, Bill and Melinda Gates are giving it another try.

  • rxc

    Greenpeace cannot allow Golden Rice to succeed. If it does, it undermines all of their arguments about other GMOs. Of course, those arguments don't have any merit, or real basis, but are just fear-mongering, but that is what Greenpeace does - fear-monger. And if it can't do it with GMOs, then their donor base will start to shake a bit. Not much, but they can certainly use their own fear-mongering techniques on themselves.

  • Robert Sykes

    Of course, Greenpeace is not in any way a humanitarian organization. If anything, it is an anti-humanitarian organization dedicated to the proposition that humans are a cancer on the earth, and that the reduction of humanity to a few million stone-age hunter-gatherers is a necessity.

  • a_random_guy

    Once upon a time, Greenpeace served a genuine purpose. As almost always happens, Greenpeace has been taken over by people dedicated to the organization, rather than to the causes it originally supported. It is not in their interest to have solutions, because solutions might make parts of the organization unnecessary.

  • http://www.grouchyconservativepundits.org/ Rusty Bill

    There are hidden contradictions in the minds of people who "love Nature"
    while deploring the "artificialities" with which "Man has spoiled
    'Nature.'" The obvious contradiction lies in their choice of words,
    which imply that Man and his artifacts are not part of "Nature" — but
    beavers and their dams are. But the contradictions go deeper than this
    prima-facie absurdity. In declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected
    by beavers for beavers' purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men
    (for the purposes of men) the Naturist reveals his hatred for his own
    race — i.e., his own self-hatred.

    In the case of "Naturists" such self-hatred is understandable; they are
    such a sorry lot. But hatred is too strong an emotion to feel toward
    them; pity and contempt are the most they rate. - Robert Heinlein

  • Gil

    Strange how the West can have food surpluses without GMO technology? Fancy that.

  • Mark2

    Do we have food surpluses? Have you noticed that the world is short of food at reasonable prices - have you noticed in the last two years half of the middle east went into revolution over bread prices - the pig farms closing, the cows being slaughtered due to expensive food? What the hell are you talking about?

  • Zachriel

    Did you consider the antique practice of actually checking their position on Golden Rice?

    "GE rice could, if introduced on a large scale,
    exacerbate malnutrition and undermine food security because it
    encourages a diet based on a single industrial staple food rather
    than upon the introduction of the many vitamin-rich food plants
    with high nutritional value that are cheap and already available."
    says Professor Klaus Becker, from University of Hohenheim,
    Germany.
    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/failures-of-golden-rice/

  • rxc

    Most of the corn(maize) grown in the US is GM. Also the soy. Really, when you think of it, no one grows non-GM crops any more. The native people in the Americas before Columbus bred corn to increase yields, and I don't know of any crops grown for food that are the same as the ones that existed before modern genetic breeding programs. Perhaps some old grains. Doing GM with radiation and chemically induced mutations is just a crude way of doing GM, and there is no requirement that the results be tested before they are marketed or used. The really old-fashioned method of just observing which plants produced the trait you wanted is only one step above praying to the gods for change.

    That is where Greenpeace wants us to go, with them as the gods.

  • morgan.c.frank

    greenpeace is about as an attractive a champion for a poor african as peta is for a stray dog. (peta kills somehting like 90% of animals in its care each year).

    zach-

    are you saying you find that to be a valid argument, because on it's face, it sounds absurd. so a food that provides deeply needed calories and vitamins is a bad thing because it could (and could is a very important word here) create dependence by solving a problem? if these other sources of vitamins are so cheap and readily available, then why are they not being used? and why, if rice had more vitamins, would it have any effect on them? this sounds like a pack of deliberate distortions and bad logic. let's not throw a life preserver to a drowning man as it could create a dangerous dependency on a signle form of buoyancy and prevent him from learning the many useful swimming strokes he might otherwise master? that's not much of an argument.

  • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

    And yet - those plants don't seem to be available, otherwise there'd be little to no need for golden rice.

  • GoneWithTheWind

    If we are willing to use half of our corn crop to make ethanol for political reasons then indeed we have a surplus.

  • 0ptimist

    Norman Borlaug might beg to differ.

  • 0ptimist

    So they're justifying it by saying people are too stupid to make their own decisions. That's even worse, though it's typical elitist tripe.

  • mark2

    Exactly. It is like Zach thinks these folks didn't eat a single bowl of rice in their lives, then all of a sudden Golden Rice - and the binge. Poor in many Asian countries eat almost nothing but rice. It would be nice to make it more nutritious. - BTW I prefer to eat the orange cauliflower. Is that going to kill the world because it is unnatural?

  • mark2

    Willing or forced by the same Greenpeace nuts? If I had my choice, I certainly wouldn't put corn based ethanol in my fuel.

  • Zachriel

    morgan.c.frank:are you saying you find that to be a valid argument, because on it's face, it sounds absurd.

    We didn't present it as a valid argument, but just to rebut that they didn't have an argument.

    morgan.c.frank:so a food that provides deeply needed calories and vitamins is a bad
    thing because it could (and could is a very important word here) create
    dependence by solving a problem?

    It creates dependence on a single product that has to be purchased from a single source. The problem occurs when the crop fails (which is becoming more common with GM crops), there is no alternative food source. Healthy, long-term agriculture requires diversity, not monoculture.

    morgan.c.frank:if these other sources of vitamins are so cheap and readily available, then why are they not being used?

    Vitamins are available, but people living in rural third world countries don't have much money. Better crops are available that don't require relying on a single crop, but that still requires money for seed and training.

    morgan.c.frank: that's not much of an argument.

    Sure it's a reasonable argument, even if it doesn't hold up in the final analysis. Minimizing objections and casting aspersions because of the source of an argument won't lead to solutions.

  • Zachriel

    morgan.c.frank:are you saying you find that to be a valid argument, because on it's face, it sounds absurd.

    We didn't present it as a valid argument, but just to rebut that they didn't have an argument.

    morgan.c.frank:so a food that provides deeply needed calories and vitamins is a bad
    thing because it could (and could is a very important word here) create
    dependence by solving a problem?

    It creates dependence on a single product that has to be purchased from a single source. The problem occurs when the crop fails (which is becoming more common with GM crops), there is no alternative food source. Healthy, long-term agriculture requires diversity, not monoculture.

    morgan.c.frank:if these other sources of vitamins are so cheap and readily available, then why are they not being used?

    Vitamins are available, but people living in rural third world countries don't have much money. Better crops are available that don't require relying on a single crop, but that still requires money for seed and training.

    morgan.c.frank: that's not much of an argument.

    Sure it's a reasonable argument, even if it doesn't hold up in the final analysis. Minimizing objections and casting aspersions because of the source of an argument won't lead to solutions.

  • Mark

    The whole process is so straightforwad it is amazing that a person like "Zach" can argue against it. Golden Rice would replace, well, RICE, in the diet of many 3rd world peoples. They eat rice because it is inexpensive, but lacks vitamin A. THe cheapest way to provide Vitamin A in their diet is Golden Rice.
    These liberal groups are very, very dangerous. They advocate stopping technological progress in agriculture. They advocate giving up economic growth in the name of "enviromentalism" or global warming. They advocate not getting your children vaccinated. And, what is absolutely hypocritical, they accuse the other side as "opposing" science!!!!

  • Zachriel

    Mark: They advocate not getting your children vaccinated.

    Is it always necessary to fight strawmen rather than just check an organizations position?

    "An innovative new solar powered refrigeration unit developed by
    Greenpeace International and six other international organizations, won
    the Environmental Pioneer in Refrigeration award in the 2006 Cooling
    Industry Awards. The SolarChill Vaccine Cooler & Refrigerator
    Project will enable vaccines to be stored in areas around the world
    without an adequate electricity supply."
    http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/press-releases/solarchill-vaccine-fridge-wins-environmental-pioneer-award

  • MingoV

    Greenpeace's human-harming 'humanitarianism' was outdone by Rachael Carson and the environmentalists who got the world to ban DDT in the 1960s. The outcome was malaria killing approximately 50 million people (mostly in Africa) since the ban. And, of course, it turns out that the initial studies linking DDT to bird deaths were wrong (as are the vast majority of chemical toxicology studies).

  • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

    To be fair, the mosquitoes carrying malaria were starting to develop resistance to DDT. (Which meant you used combinations, or used X out in the open and DDT indoors.) But I agree - the fear surrounding DDT was unwarranted.

  • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

    Well, we DID. Now we've got a shortage. Go figure...

  • Gil

    Last time I looked DDT was still allowed to be used.

  • Gil

    Conclusion: poor people are stupid and Westerners have to save their scrawny backsides.

  • obloodyhell

    }}}} What the hell are you talking about?

    Mark, if you have no freaking clue what you're talking about, then you should be ASKING the above questions, not snarkily "pointing them out". Because what's said BELOW is totally correct. There ARE surpluses. The fact is, we currently turn about 40% of our excess corn into biofuels, as REQUIRED by government mandates demanding a high percentage of ethanol in our fuel... and they're about to get WORSE, not better, because now they're trying to ram 85% down everyone's throats in place of 90% max -- 50% more jackassohol made from those foods whose prices are spiking.

    And, of course, the only reason for doing this was supposedly to save gas and/or reduce carbon emissions... neither of which have happened as a result. There has, instead, only been two results:
    1) Lots and lots of extra money lining the pockets of Archer-Daniels-Midland and several other prominent ag-industrialists
    2) Lots more hungry people paying far more for what little excess food we let escape.

    http://www.agmrc.org/renewable_energy/ethanol/who_profits_from_the_corn_ethanol_boom.cfm

    This piece from Michael Fumento before he went wonky is also quite good:
    http://fumento.com/biotech/shiva.html

    Now, the best bet, if your concern is that a company like Monsanto or
    another is going to have too much of a single lock on the food we eat is
    to provide them with a reason to make the patents public domain -- by
    buying them from them at a reasonable and fair price. How to define
    that, of course, is a bit tricky, but I think one can make some guesses
    as to the likely amount of money they stand to make, and hence to offer
    them a substantial fraction of that -- a fraction, rather than all
    because you're massively lowering their risks and issues with it -- you
    instantly knock a substantial leg out from under the arguments,
    eliminate any chance of the government of any nation outright seizing
    anything, and reduce any issues with public perception of them as the
    "evil landlord" sort of corporation.

    And if GP actually CARED about people, then this is what they'd push towards. But they aren't, so their lack of care is sort of obvious.

  • Zachriel

    It is. It was never banned for vector control, only for agricultural use. Overuse for agriculture led to the evolution of resistant mosquitoes, which undermined its effectiveness for vector control.

  • Zachriel

    It is. It was never outlawed for vector control, only for agricultural use. Overuse for agriculture led to the evolution of resistant strains of mosquitoes, undermining its use for vector control.

  • Gil

    I made a comment here about how Greenpeace was actually making a better case for helping out such poor people than those reciting the "golden rice" canard but it got lost in moderation I guess.

  • Gil

    "They?" Who's "they"? Libertarians and natural health groups who hate Greenies are anti-vaccination. They lap up that Wakefield's study and Jenny McCarthy's advice as though both were truth. Those people lack vitamin A because of poverty values than some cosmically cruel joke. Why on earth are they poor when so many Westerners and Asians show weatlh, health and food surpluses can be created? Are these people locked into a terrible existence because tribal violence or some crap like that?

  • John David Galt

    Riiiiiight. And all Obama supporters are Communists.

  • John David Galt

    It's not poor people who have resisted the introduction of GR. It's limousine "liberals" like Greenpeace.

  • John David Galt

    And all the major leaders of the Green movement openly admit to that hatred -- on green-agenda.com .

  • Gil

    Resisted? More like science - GR is *still* not fit for human consumption. As said Greenpeace have a PDF showing they're more concerned with the problem than the GR folk - they're more interested in seeing if they can accomplish it per se than helping the poor.