Opinion

Huge Split In The Pro-GMO Community: Is Dr. Patrick Moore Out?

As far as organic stakeholders are concerned, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) must be banned. Even new GMO crops that would provide benefits to organic farmers and the world’s poor are out.

These same people who decided way back in 1997 that GMO crops must forever be labelled as dangerous also believe coal-fired power generation and diesel farm-tractors cause the planet’s atmosphere to warm. If only the facts supported either position.

Roughly 70 percent of our diet now includes GMOs and, after almost two decades, not a single illness has been reported. During that same timeframe, the planet has not warmed even though we emitted 25 per cent of all the carbon dioxide ever emitted during this time! And this leads people like Dr. Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, to posit that technology might actually be good for the environment.

Moore leads the campaign to approve GMO Golden Rice, enriched with β-Carotene to prevent blindness in millions of children in the Developing World. He’s also a leading skeptic of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), warning that curbing fossil-fuel usage will only serve to destroy Western economies and wipe out progress in the developing world.

Naturally, Moore’s former colleagues at Greenpeace reject his views. But how do we explain his enemies on the pro-GMO side of the equation? Who could possibly agree with Moore on the safety and benefits of one human innovation: GMO crops, but oppose him on the larger issue of AGW theory which impugns all forms of innovation? Well, let’s start at the bottom.

First we have people like Dr. Karl Haro von Mogel, chairman of BioFortified.org, and Jon Entine, former NBC producer and founder of the Genetic Literacy Project. Both support GMOs but refuse to run material by Moore due to his skepticism of their cherished predictions of future climatic events.

Moving up the food chain we encounter the overwhelming majority of executives at leading GMO corporations like Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer, along with the executives of their lobbying organizations CropLife and BIO, hand-in-hand with the executives of nearly every commodity group and farm bureau across the land. These top-earners have decided to embrace the dubious findings of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change along with Agenda 21, social engineering plans which seek to drastically reduce the amount of energy we use, eliminate private property rights, and thereby undermine our standard of living in America.

These executives would have you believe that human activities like power generation and modern farming will, at some future date, cause the polar ice caps to melt. And not only does this put them squarely on the same side of the fence as organic activists who claim GMOs threaten organic crops. It also eliminates any possibility of support from these executives for humanitarian efforts like Moore’s aforementioned campaign to get GMO Golden Rice approved. All in a day’s work; it’s what compromise is all about.

None of these GMO executives explains that GMOs pose no threat whatsoever to organic crops, and further, that many GMO crops could be grown under organic management, as per President Clinton’s suggestion back in 1997. Apparently they’ve never bothered to read America’s standards for organic production, which, fittingly, also appears to be the case with the organic activists they find themselves in bed with. Why pass laws through Congress if neither side follows them?

But never mind all these bothersome facts. As far as GMO executives are concerned, AGW and the U.N. are both “in,” and Moore and his ilk are out. Alas, a grand bargain has been in the works for quite some time now.

In exchange for the immediate acceptance of the tenets of Al Gore’s global-warming agenda, politicians in New York, Washington and Brussels are writing agreements allowing for the gradual acceptance of GMO foods the world-over. As part of the exchange, GMO executives will allow for the immediate adoption of European-style restrictions on GMOs here in America in the form of a national GMO labelling program: Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.)’s H.R. 4432.

Again, never mind the bipartisan rules for organic production that were written during President Clinton’s second term, and passed into law during George Bush’s first term. Washington and pro-GMO executives have decided that the solution to the organic movement’s inflexible opposition to GMOs is to pass yet more law.

This legislation not only concedes to organic activists by adding yet another layer of bureaucracy by labelling a field of science these activists reject. More astonishing is the bill’s institution of an “acceptable” European threshold limit on GMOs here in America – the place where GMOs were invented! – making it possible for the first time ever for organic farmers to sue GMO farmers if their organic crops become “contaminated” by GMO pollen.

This is what consensus looks like; again, all in a day’s work for these execs. American farmers will be exposed to litigation while Monsanto et al are protected.

But hang on, there’s another layer to the onion. Established GMO corporations have actually decided that the organic movement’s attacks on the science of genetic engineering present them with a golden opportunity.

The more that organic activists gin-up fear about GMOs, the more politicians are forced to pay lip service to the notion that GMOs might pose some sort of a threat, resulting in misguided legislation like H.R. 4432. This has led to a continuous ratcheting-up of the regulatory framework surrounding new GMO crops, to the point where only a handful of GMO corporate giants can afford to participate. In fact, these executives have actually been helping regulators make the process more onerous right from the start!

Pro-GMO, pro-AGW, anti-Moore executives have turned agricultural genetic engineering into the high-roller’s table in Vegas.

If IBM had managed to do this with computers before Bill Gates and Steve Jobs hit the scene, you wouldn’t be reading this article online right now. The more expensive the regulatory process, the less innovation there is, and these executives really couldn’t be happier.

Heaven forbid the public might someday come to accept GMOs the same way we accept the microchip and the 12-gauge shotgun shell that propels the air bag in your steering wheel. When that day comes, corporations like Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta will have to start investing in innovating again, or risk going the way of Kodak and Xerox.

In the meantime, any risk presented by new laws like H.R. 4432 is totally manageable for these executives, because it’s so highly unlikely that any existing GMO crops would ever be de-listed. And besides, Pompeo and Butterfield’s voluntary, national GMO labelling bill leads to marketing decisions that food processor and grocery store executives will have to make, with no ramifications for GMO executives. And no matter how bad the situation might become on the public-relations front, there is no possible way that these food processors and grocers will ever convince a couple million American farmers to abandon GMO canola, corn, alfalfa and sugar beets.

In short, established GMO crops are now a permanent fixture of the American farm economy, and everyone in the food biz, with the exception of GMO executives, will just have to learn to deal with the barrage of attacks from organic activists which show no sign of abating.

As for new GMO crops … who cares? Not these executives. If a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, then surely an approved, entrenched GMO crop is probably worth 100 unapproved GMO crops. Indeed, the litany of UN-approved GMO crops sitting in limbo in the dusty halls of academia and in the laboratories of smaller GMO start-ups grows longer every day, much to the dismay of farmers.