Genetically-modified crops are an extremely complicated and controversial issue – one I will readily admit I am not an expert in. But this week, over 100 people who are experts in the subject, at least if you consider winners of the Noble Prize experts, are fighting back against the anti-GMO sentiment – and against Greenpeace specifically.
Organized by Richard Roberts, a 1993 Nobel Prize recipient in physiology or medicine, 108 Nobel laureates have signed an open letter entitled “Laureates Letter Supporting Precision Agriculture (GMO).” In the letter, addressed “To the Leaders of Greenpeace, the United Nations and Governments around the world,” it states, “We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against ‘GMOs’ in general and Golden Rice in particular.” Golden rice is a GM rice that has been grown in both the United States and East Asia that is rich in vitamin A.
The letter continues, “Scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production. There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption. Their environmental impacts have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment, and a boon to global biodiversity.”
The 108 signatures is especially impressive considering, as Roberts told The Washington Post, by his count only 296 laureates are still alive today.
Of course, Greenpeace is an organization that’s never been known for avoiding a fight. In an update to the Post’s original piece, Wilhelmina Pelegrina, Campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia, specifically addressing the letter’s take on “Golden Rice,” responding in part, “It is irresponsible to impose…golden rice as a quick remedy to people on the front lines and who do not welcome it, particularly when there are safe and effective options already available.”
If there’s one thing I do know about GMOs, it’s that if Neil Young couldn’t end the controversy, it’s possible no one can—not even a bunch of Nobel Prize winners.