A Public Challenge to Greenpeace to Explain the Health and Environmental Effects They Claim Could Be Caused by Golden Rice

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The Allow Golden Rice Now campaign, led by former Greenpeace leader, Dr. Patrick Moore, is calling on the organization to back up their claims of potential harm.

"We believe Greenpeace and their allies oppose Golden Rice entirely because it was produced with genetic science, and are manufacturing reasons why we should not allow this life-saving food to be grown," says Dr. Moore. "We demand that Greenpeace specify a plausible means whereby Golden Rice could cause harm to health or the environment," stated Dr. Moore. "If they cannot, then they must drop their opposition to this vital cure for the greatest cause of childhood death in the world today."

Humanitarian scientists Dr. Ingo Potrykus and Prof. Peter Beyer invented golden Rice in 1999. It is genetically modified to contain beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Rice has no vitamin A in its grain and it is not possible to produce a rice variety containing vitamin A by conventional breeding methods.

According to the World Health Organization, Vitamin A deficiency-related disease kills 2-3 million people, mostly children, every year. It is the largest killer of children in the world today. 250 million preschool children are vitamin A deficient. 250,000 – 500,000 children go blind each year from vitamin A deficiency, by far the greatest cause of childhood blindness (wwwgoldenrice.org).

Dr. Moore's Allow Golden Rice Society claims that since Golden Rice was announced in 2000, Greenpeace has waged a campaign to damage its reputation, to destroy scientific field trials, to smear scientists who do nutritional studies that prove Golden Rice works, and to generally spread malicious misinformation about this important humanitarian effort.

The most important allegation by Greenpeace is that there may be unforeseen consequences for 'human health and the environment' or words to that effect. Greenpeace has never specified what these effects might be. The Golden Rice Society says this is not acceptable. They believe Greenpeace knows of no negative effects from Golden Rice.

"There is only one difference between Golden Rice and other rice varieties and that is the beta-carotene, an essential nutrient," says Dr. Moore. "Beta-carotene can only have positive health effects. There are no genes in a grain of rice. The genes are in the plant that produces the rice. And surely the death of 2-3 million people every year from vitamin A deficiency is a health effect."

"Greenpeace says they are concerned about 'cross-contamination' by which they mean cross-pollination or sexual reproduction between plants," says Dr. Moore. "Golden Rice could only cross with other varieties of rice. Rice is self-pollinating so rice plants very rarely cross-pollinate. If they did the only thing that could happen would be to transfer beta-carotene to the seeds of another rice plant, thus making it more nutritious. All green plants contain beta-carotene, it’s just unfortunate that rice has none in its seed, the part we eat." 

Dr. Patrick Moore was a co-founder of Greenpeace and helped lead the organization for 15 years. He is now an independent ecologist and environmentalist working from Vancouver, Canada.

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Michael Moore
Dr. Patrick Moore
since: 01/2011
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