Why Greenpeace ain't getting one dime from me

Living in the Old World, I have not had the opportunity to see much of the work of comedians/magicians Penn & Teller yet. I was most interested in their Bullshit! series, which aims to debunk some more or less widely accepted "truths", and thanks to Google Video, I watched one episode that was more than interesting.
For some time now, I've been trying to figure out what's what in the debate about Genetically Engineered food, or GE food. Environmental and animal rights activists speak of 'Frankenfood', warning of unknown horrors that may or may not occur as a result of eating GE food. The general stance seems to run along the lines of an 'abomination against nature'. Many of such activists accuse large corporations of putting profit over biodiversity and health.
In this program, Penn & Teller make a convincing case that this whole abhorrence of GE food is nothing short of (all-natural) bullshit.
To support their case, they point to Nobel Peace Prize winner and agricultural scientist Norman Bolraug (never heard of him, right? Neither had I), who is credited with saving a billion lives in Mexico, India and other parts of the world through his evil manipulation of crops. Borlaug is very puzzled by these radicals, when his aim is to feed the world.
But this is not all. Bullshit! debunks some other claims of the anti-GE league:

  • GE food is not tested for health risks. This is bullshit. The USDA, FDA and EPA spend tens of millions of dollars (more than for any other type of food) to establish the safety of GE foods.
  • Organic food is a viable alternative to genetic engineering. This is bullshit. Growing organic food would not feed more than 4 out of the 6 billion (and rising) inhabitants of the planet.
I admit that the Bullshit! show goes far, but the thought that elitist pricks with some misguided sense of moral superiority and knee-jerk anti-authoritarianism can keep good, nutritious food out of the bellies of the starving zillions in the Third World is nothing short of sickening. I care about the planet and the environment; I am cynical about what large multinational corporations do to the world, and what governments allow them to do; and I generally consider myself to be a leftist. But to see NGOs employing brutal scare tactics that harm real people just to make themselves feel better, I am deeply, deeply disturbed.
Of course, any anti-GE food activisit is welcome to argue this point with me. There's a "Respond" link at the top left of the snowstone homepage.

Posted by cronopio at 02:19 PM, December 15, 2005