Published on: 15:25PM Jul 27, 2011
By Jeff Bidstrup: Queensland, Australia
You might think that a group called Greenpeace wouldn’t be so warlike. Yet the disturbing activities of this radical organization reveal an addiction to violence and a perverse determination to destroy good scientific research whose goal is to feed the world.
In July, Greenpeace and its allies launched a new round of aggression against biotech food, attacking sites in Australia and Germany. Earlier this year, they targeted the Philippines.
Nobody knows when or where they’ll strike next. If we don’t halt their harmful ideology however, farmers, consumers, and the environment will pay a hefty price.
The raid in Australia was especially provocative. At a test plot near the capital of Canberra, Greenpeace militants razed a small field of genetically modified wheat. The crop vandals attacked at dawn, scaling several fences, breaking out their whipper snippers, and videotaping the whole thing. They took so much pride in their havoc that they boasted about it in a press release.
What they did was break the law--and set back scientific research that aims to develop new technologies for fighting hunger and malnutrition.
Around the same time, others launched a similar assault in Germany. These pseudo-eco-terrorists “overpowered the security guard” (as a news report put it) and ravaged fields of fungal-resistant wheat and potatoes cultivated for industrial use.
One crop company says it may pull out of Germany. Perhaps this is a sound business decision when research and investment can shift to friendlier locales around the world and elsewhere. At the same time, it’s a disheartening move--the agricultural equivalent of letting the terrorists win.
Australia and Germany are prosperous countries whose citizens don’t starve to death. Many of our neighbors are developing nations with booming populations and food-security challenges are a different matter. Yet even they suffer from anti-biotech incursions. In February, Greenpeace ripped up GM eggplant fields in the Philippines.
Greenpeace seems to cling to the romantic notion that organic agriculture can feed the world. This is ridiculous. A century ago, cutting-edge agricultural science was based on organic principles. The result was often poor production, disease, and famine. In the 21st century, we must do better, taking advantage of modern technology--and especially biotechnology--to meet the enormous demands our global population puts on the world’s food supply and resources.
Whilst many of us have a soft spot for them trying to save the whales, in this instance, the public and the media should treat Greenpeace not as a plucky advocacy group but rather as a criminal organization. The perpetrators of the raids in Australia, Germany, and the Philippines must be brought to justice. Those who aided them should face legal consequences. It may well be a well-organized publicity stunt to raise funds and profiles, but destroying science that will help alleviate hunger and disease, and reduce our load on our natural resources when we produce food, is just plain eco-terrorism – the opposite of what they claim to be.
Here in Australia, we’ve experienced the benefits of GM cotton. Farmers have decreased their pesticide use and maintained a steady supply of affordable fiber for clothes.
Now we need to develop genetically modified wheat to fight the droughts, salinity and frost that so often plague our continent. Crops that can produce under our often harsh conditions at maximum efficiency are essential if consumers are to pay reasonable prices for their food and the environment is to survive the stress on its resources.
Success will require scientific research, innovation and sensible regulation. That’s why test fields are indispensible. They allow us to study various biotech avenues, refine them if necessary, and commercialize them when ready.
A mountain of data already proves that biotech food is perfectly safe. History shows it is safe and beneficial. If we’re to grow a new generation of crops that produces more food while using less land and fewer resources, we’ll need more research, free from harassment.
If activists want to oppose biotech food, that’s their choice. They can purchase organic food at their grocery stores. Yet nobody has a right to break laws and destroy property. Misinformation may inspire you to campaign against life-saving insulin because it’s derived from biotechnology, but you can’t burn down the insulin factories.
We’re supposed to settle our differences through debate and deliberation. Greenpeace and its ilk reject this approach. They’ve even skipped over a strategy of civil disobedience in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. They’ve gone straight to hooliganism.
Greenpeace’s founder, Dr. Moore has described the Greenpeace of today as “eco-extremist”, believing the organization is “anti-human, anti-technology, and anti-science.” He is correct.
Greenpeace has lost its way. Our duty is to resist them, by legal, peaceful means.
Jeff Bidstrup and his family grow cotton, wheat, sorghum and chickpeas in Queensland, Australia. Mr. Bidstrup is a member of the Truth About Trade & Technology Global Farmer Network and the 2008 recipient of the Kleckner Trade and Technology Advancement Award.