Greenpeace Backing Down on GMOs– AfricaBio, January 6, 2010
Greenpeace has for the second time in eight years backed down on opposing the development of Golden Rice. Kumi Naidoo of Durban , the South African born newly appointed executive director of Greenpeace International, in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, on the question of Golden Rice, said:
“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.”
“This is a very welcome approach to the acceptance of GMOs in general and not only concerns Golden Rice. It will undoubtedly boost Africa’s endeavours to speed up the development of GM crops to alleviate hunger and poverty,” says Professor Jocelyn Webster, executive director of AfricaBio , South Africa , a biotechnology stakeholders’ organisation. “It is an encouraging move away from the usual radical view of activists to a more open approach where things can be discussed, which is a boon to GMO acceptance worldwide in general,” says Professor Webster.
This is the second positive statement from Greenpeace on Golden Rice, Prof Webster emphasised. She pointed out that in February 2001 at the BioVision Conference in Lyon , France , Benedict Haerlin, genetic engineering coordinator of Greenpeace, also backed down from the stand against GM crops. He admitted that Greenpeace would not oppose field trials of Golden Rice being developed to combat blindness in the Third World . (Daily Telegraph, London , 10 February 2001)
Golden Rice was developed to combat Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) which kills 6000 people daily and causes blindness in 500 000 children annually. (UNICEF 2007)
“A single month of delay in the marketing Golden Rice would cause 50 000 children to go blind. This is the price to pay for opposing the development of this unique scientific breakthrough in human food. At last it seems that Greenpeace is seeing the light that could save the loss of sight of 500 000 children annually in the developing world.”
“I’m sure that South African born Naidoo is encouraged by the success of GM crop production in South Africa over the past eleven years. There have been no adverse effects on human and animal health nor the environment. Main beneficiaries have undoubtedly been the thousands of smallholder farmers who have increased their yields by up to 30%, providing them with a sustainable food supply,” according to Prof Webster.
Commenting on Naidoo’s remarks, Professor Klaus Ammann, eminent Swiss scientist said: “Greenpeace’s aggressiveness towards Golden Rice and Naidoo’s encouraging stance will soon turn into a major success like Bt rice in China. China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of rice and has just approved the production of GM rice promising a yield increase of 8% and an 80% decrease in insecticides.”
Golden Rice is scheduled to be launched in 2011/12.