When the left demonstrates its own anti-science bias, sadly, it’s often in areas where real people suffer. One such bias, the left’s superstitious rejection of genetically modified foods, has had grave consequences.
Bjorn Lomborg, author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” writes that Greenpeace and other such groups have campaigned hard against a harmless form of rice that could save many lives.
“Finally, after 12 years of delay caused by opponents of genetically modified (GM) foods, so-called ‘golden rice’ with vitamin A will be grown in the Philippines,” Lomborg writes. “Over those 12 years, about eight million children worldwide died from vitamin A deficiency. Are anti-GM advocates not partly responsible?”
That’s a harsh indictment, but his point is valid. The campaign against golden rice and other GM foods has consequences.
“Three billion people depend on rice as their staple food, with 10 percent at risk for vitamin A deficiency, which, according to the World Health Organization, causes 250,000-500,000 children to go blind each year,” he writes. “Of these, half die within a year. A study from the British medical journal The Lancet estimates that, in total, vitamin A deficiency kills 668,000 children under the age of five each year. Yet, despite the cost in human lives, anti-GM campaigners — from Greenpeace to Naomi Klein — have derided efforts to use golden rice to avoid vitamin A deficiency.”
It’s not only science that’s under attack — it’s basic logic.
Lomborg explains, “Greenpeace calls golden rice a ‘failure,’ because it ‘has been in development for almost 20 years and has still not made any impact on the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency.’ But, as Ingo Potrykus, the scientist who developed golden rice, has made clear, that failure is due almost entirely to relentless opposition to GM foods — often by rich, well-meaning Westerners far removed from the risks of actual vitamin A deficiency.”
Let’s be clear. There is no scientific evidence — at all — that GM foods are harmful. In fact, last month, one of the founders of the anti-GM movement, environmentalist Mark Lynas, acknowledged his mistake and called for the broad use of GM crops. They’re good for the environment and they’re good for people, he said.
“I want to start with some apologies,” Lynas told the Oxford Farming Conference in January. “For the record, here and upfront, I apologize for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonizing an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.”
The United Nations and others continue to question GM foods. But delays have consequences.