Nobel Laureates want Greenpeace to stop campaigning against G.M.O Foods
A letter posted online, signed by 100 Nobel laureates, was officially unveiled on 30th June, 2016, at a news conference in Washington D.C. In it, the laureates expressed their dislike for Greenpeace campaigns against G.M.O food products. The advocates of genetically modified foods (for eg. Golden Rice, containing genes from a corn and bacterium) argue that they provide necessary nutrients effectively.
Standing for Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs are living organisms, whose genetic material has been tampered with in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This results in the creation of combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that aren't usually found in nature. There are contradicting claims over the efficiency and heath risks associated with GMO products, and several organizations and countries have banned them.
Genetically modified foods are thus foods produced from seeds whose DNA has been altered by using methods of Genetic Engineering (GE). The first genetically modified foods began selling commercially in the year 1994.
Golden Rice is a strain of rice, genetically improved to produce beta carotene. Its creators hope that Golden Rice may help alleviate the Vitamin A Deficiency, responsible for many deaths and diseases, especially in Africa and Southeast Asia.
109 laureates that signed the letter asked Greenpeace to stop campaigning against Golden Rice, a genetically modified strain of rice. The letter includes, "We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology." The letter was organised by Richard Roberts who called opposing G.M.Os "cruel and heartless" and "a crime against humanity".
Calling the event a publicity stunt, Greenpeace officials contended that genetically modified Golden Rice could harm non-genetically engineered rice by contaminating them. According to Greenpeace, nutrition needs in developing countries deserve more focus and implementation. Charlie Cray, a senior researcher with Greenpeace, said, "Why are they doing a press conference in Washington D.C a week before there is a major vote in G.M.O labeling?"
American corporations like Monsanto and Dow Chemicals sell patented seeds which kill pests and weeds when mixed with biocides. This in turn negatively impacts the long-term health of soils and biodiversity of local environments allowing natural pollination.