Saving lives the Greenpeace way
By Dennis T. Avery
The media last week was full of dire warnings about man-made global warming. Greenpeace and the UN say Americans must move quickly to give up 80–90 percent of their current energy use to prevent millions of potential human deaths from an over-heated planet. The haste to destroy the world's economy is strange considering: 1) there has been no significant global warming for the past nine years; 2) most of our currant modest warming took place before 1940; and, 3) much of the scientific evidence gathered the last twenty years points directly to the sun as the source of our cyclical warmings and coolings over the last million years.
Oddly enough, Greenpeace is, at this same moment, proposing endless delays for a far cheaper way and proven way to prevent millions of human deaths—genetically engineered Golden Rice. Golden Rice, like carrots, contains beta carotene, which the human body turns into Vitamin A. Rich-world kids get their Vitamin A mostly from meat, milk and eggs, which Third World kids can't afford. Golden Rice yields far more bio-available Vitamin A to poor kids than do carrots or leafy greens.
The new rice could prevent a million kids a years in third world countries from going blind due to severe Vitamin A deficiency in their diets and reduce death rates from such diseases as measles, diarrhea, and malaria. It is estimated that two million lives a year could be saved by this inexpensive and simple dietary addition.
Greenpeace opposes Golden Rice on the vague generalization that genetic engineering is "too dangerous." Yet Greenpeace has documented no risks at all from Golden Rice or any other biotech food—let alone a risk that would stack up against the ongoing deaths of millions of kids per year.
At two million deaths per year, in fact, Greenpeace is rapidly becoming a real competitor to Rachel Carson in the global "deadliest killers" sweepstakes. Rachel duped us into believing that DDT was too dangerous to use, indoors, to protect kids in the tropics from malaria mosquitoes. Rachel and her willing followers' DDT phobia has triggered only about one million deaths per year, however, so Greenpeace is rapidly closing in on her total of needless human slaughter.
Golden Rice was developed by Swiss government researchers, and given free to a public-private partnership for cross-breeding into farmers' rice varieties. Greenpeace has worked to make biotech testing and approval so onerous that it took five years just to get a field trial of the Golden Rice seeds! And the field trial had to be in America, because no poor country had all the regulatory bells and whistles in place to conduct it. On the present schedule, it now looks as though it will take a total of 13 years and 14 million deaths to put Golden Rice in the mouth of any poor, at-risk child.
How unfair is it that Third World children are the major victims of both Rachel Carson and Greenpeace?
Since Greenpeace presents itself also as a leading authority on global warming, should we re-examine their stance on that issue too?
Dennis T. Avery is a senior fellow for Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. and is the Director for Center for Global Food Issues. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. Readers may write him at Post Office Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!