Opinion

FoodPolitik: Greenpeace is neither green nor peaceful


Richard Berman President, Berman and Company

Left-wing environmentalist groups are chockfull of propaganda, and when they drink too much of their own kool-aid, the results can be unsettling. That’s just what happened Down Under, where Greenpeace activists recently took pictures of themselves destroying a government crop-biotechnology experiment.

Unsurprisingly, Australian police soon raided Greenpeace’s Sydney office and now two activists are facing criminal charges for their alleged role in destroying the experiment and causing $300,000 in damage.

What would drive activists to cross the line from peaceful protest — a time-honored tradition in the U.S. — to something more nefarious? Welcome to the junction where ideology becomes eco-vigilantism (or worse).

Greenpeace has long opposed the use of genetic-modification biotechnology in crops. The premise of the technology is quite simple: Insert a few genes into, for example, corn or wheat that give the crop a resistance to drought or to a certain pesticide.

Greenpeace and other fringe environmental groups react to genetically improved crops like a vampire seeing a cross. Greenpeace breathlessly warns that biotech crops will cause new and horrible food allergies (but they haven’t). Biotech crops have been widely consumed for over a decade in the U.S. without any instances of health problems.

And the technology holds promise for the Third World as well. Golden rice, for example, is a vehicle for delivering vitamin A to poor populations. (The World Health Organization notes that 250 million preschool children are vitamin A deficient, which is the leading cause of preventable blindness.)

Greenpeace, of course, has attacked golden rice and other potential biotech solutions. It’s no surprise, then, that one doctor in Tanzania has said, “If we were to apply Greenpeace’s scientifically illiterate standards universally, there would be nothing left on our tables.”

Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, put it best about the elitism of the environmental movement: “Our elites live in big cities and are far removed from the fields. Whether it’s … the head of the Sierra Club or the head of Greenpeace, they’ve never been hungry.”

That gap between the Greenpeace elites, who are attacking vital resources, and the poor, who suffer the consequences, can also be seen in another area: fish.

Canned tuna is one of the most affordable sources of omega-3s for poor families. Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a plethora of health benefits, such as preventing heart disease, arthritis, dementia and other conditions.

Yet, according to data from the ACNielsen Homescan project, 4.4 million U.S. households earning $30,000 or less completely eliminated their purchases of canned tuna between 2000 and 2006. We can thank overblown scare campaigns from environmental groups like Greenpeace and the Environmental Working Group for that health disaster.

Greenpeace has fear-mongered on the basis of trace amounts of mercury being present in seafood. But respected scientists report that the benefits of eating seafood far outweigh the hypothetical risk of mercury poisoning (there isn’t a single case of mercury poisoning in the medical literature from commercially bought seafood in the U.S.). A breakthrough study published in The Lancet in 2007 found that women who ate the most fish while pregnant had children who scored the highest on intelligence tests.

About 260,000 children were born in those 4.4 million poor households during that time. They missed out on a lot of brain food.

When Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore saw the light, he denounced the group’s head-in-the-sand philosophy. Moore has called Greenpeace “anti-science”; “pro-anarchy”; “anti-democratic”; and “basically anti-civilization.”

Greenpeace, in response, has attacked Moore because he “promotes such anti-environmental positions as … mining.”

Really? Mining? Something that humans have been doing since the beginning of civilization?

Does anybody else see how stupid this is?

Rick Berman is President of the public affairs firm Berman and Company. He has worked extensively in the food and beverage industries for the past 30 years. To learn more, visit http://www.BermanCo.com.