Greenpeace "not backing down on genetic engineering"
We're not backing down on genetic engineering
Not many things are certain but in the media you can be sure that things you say will often get distorted so much so - that after a while they bear little or no resemblance to what you actually said - especially when the industry you oppose gets a hold if it. Back in November our Executive Director did an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel.
"Genetic technology has come forth with Golden rice, which can provide undernourished children with vitamin A and protect them from blindness. What would an African head of Greenpeace have against this?"
Kumi's response was:
"I don't have a scientific background and for this reason I'd like to have another look at all of our scientific positions. We must be certain that we are not passing up any new, good developments."
And that's exactly what they printed but here's what their website quoted him as saying:
"In view of developments like Golden Rice, Greenpeace must reconsider its position with regard to GMOs. We must make sure not to dismiss new and important developments."
As you can see for yourself - it's completely different to what he actually said. As a result of this error - Der Spiegel's online readers were left with the completely wrong impression of our current opposition to genetically engineered (GE) organisms.
To add insult to injury - this misquote took off with a life of it's own - being reported with headlines like "Greenpeace Backing Down on GMOs" by the agri-chemical industry. And of course they were delighted - pushing headlines around like this as if Christmas had come early...
Meanwhile a correction was made by Der Spiegel.
But the story is still showing up on a few blogs and confusing a lot of people.
To be completely clear here - on our own blog - we remain firmly in opposition to genetically engineered (GE) crops. These crops can inter-breed with closely related plants thereby contaminating non GE crops and environments in unforeseeable and uncontrollable ways. The release of GE crops into the environment is "genetic pollution" and as such a major threat both to the environment and to the livelihood of farmers globally.
When I spoke to Kumi about this earlier today - he was concerned about the latest confusion surrounding our position and made the following statement.
"The fight against poverty and malnutrition is one I feel very strongly about and which I have been involved in my entire adult life. Our planet is fully capable of producing enough food for all of us, if only we would overcome the social, political, economic and environmental problems - the manmade problems - that stand in the way. In the meantime, we should not waste time and money with genetic engineering, which at best is only a dangerous and costly distraction."
Yellow Rice, if introduced on a large scale, could actually exacerbate malnutrition and undermine food security because it encourages a diet based on a single industrial staple food rather than increase access to the many vitamin-rich food plants with high nutritional value.
The fact that the GE industry has grabbed hold of this and fabricated the story even further than the original misquote is a telling sign that they are failing to make any significant progress towards getting their risky products on the market. They are acting like a sinking ship - desperately trying to stay afloat. What they fail to realise is that they have already hit rock bottom because their "solution" to food security is full of so many holes!
For more information about our position on GE crops including Yellow (Golden) Rice: Visit our pages on sustainable agriculture.