2015 – 063 Owen Patterson on Greenpeace work to starve the world’s poor

How Neil Young, Greenpeace work to starve the world’s poor

By Owen Paterson

How Neil Young, Greenpeace work to starve the world’s poor

This month, rock legend Neil Young will release his 36th studio album. It’s a bit different from his usual fare.

Called “The Monsanto Years,” the album features the collaboration of Young and Willie Nelson’s sons, Micah and Lukas, and targets Monsanto, the company known for producing food made from genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

According to Rolling Stone, listeners will hear Young sing this gem: “I love to start my day off without helping Monsanto/ Monsanto, let our farmers grow what they want to grow/ From the fields of Nebraska from the banks of the Ohio/ Farmers won’t be free to grow what they want to grow/ If corporate control takes over the American farm/ with fascist politicians and chemical giants walking arm in arm.”

The aging songwriter is following the lead of activists who claim that GMOs are harmful to health, farmers and the environment.

This is tragically wrong. In reality, GMOs can save millions of lives. It’s the environmentalists who are doing real harm.

The best example of this is Golden Rice, a miracle grain enhanced with Vitamin A-producing beta-carotene.

Developed 15 years ago, it was considered a breakthrough in bio-fortified technology. Today, 6,000 children will die from Vitamin A deficiency. Each year, 500,000 people, mostly children, lose their sight; half of them will die within a year of becoming blind. Altogether, over 2 million people every year are victims of Vitamin A deficiency.

Many of those lives could be saved if Golden Rice were in their diets.

But the ongoing opposition of anti-GMO activist groups and their lavish scare campaign with its combined global war chest estimated to exceed $500 million a year have kept Golden Rice off the global market.

Deploying highly sophisticated PR and un-scientific scaremongering, Greenpeace has led that opposition. But it hasn’t acted alone.

Last year, to Greenpeace’s loud cheers, MASIPAG, a closely allied organization, violently attacked and destroyed a Golden Rice field trial in the Philippines. The group claimed to be a “farmer-led network,” but local officials reported that its thugs had been bused in from a nearby city.

MASIPAG’s list of supporters and partners reads like a directory of European church- and government-sponsored social-justice and development groups.

And MASIPAG is just one of a proliferating network of anti-GMO groups and assorted activists operating in the developing world, often with EU support. When did so many “humanitarian” organizations become so disdainful of the lives of the desperately poor?

Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace in the 1970s, broke with his creation and now works to expose Greenpeace’s actions in the developing world. He’s joined with Golden Rice inventor Ingo Potrykus in calling for putting Greenpeace on trial for crimes against humanity.

There are humanitarian and environmental groups that have come to recognize the important role biotech can play in alleviating human suffering and spurring development.

Oxfam and the Nature Conservancy were initially opposed to GMOs. In the light of overwhelming scientific confirmation of efficacy and safety, both have softened or ended their opposition.

Isn’t it time for them to show leadership on this urgent humanitarian issue, starting with Golden Rice?

Where also are the UN organizations WHO, FAO, UNICEF — all with nutritional improvement and development mandates?

They’ve recognized the scourge of Vitamin A deficiency as a major and cheap-to-control problem for the last 25 years.

But, cowed by activist polemic, these institutions have done little to advance the cause.

Instead of bashing companies that are trying to save lives, Young ought to use his star power to convince the NGO community to do the right thing and support giving the developing world the GMO tools it needs to feed its growing, and tragically malnourished, populations.

The Right Hon. Owen Paterson is the Conservative Member of Parliament for North Shropshire. He was UK secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs from 2012 to 2014.

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