Greenpeace losing war versus science

  • 31 July 2014, Thursday

Source: The Daily Tribune
3 July 2014

If recent media reports are to be believed, then modern science still has the upper hand over the well-funded campaign of European activist Greenpeace against agricultural biotechnology.

Recent media reports based on a briefing by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research on Agriculture revealed that the adoption of biotechnology-processed crop varieties has apparently not gone down. In fact, it has gone up not just in the Philippines but elsewhere in the world.

According to Searca, Filipino farmers have already planted some 800,000 hectares of biotech corn, putting in on 12th spot in the list of countries in the world that has gone for the pesticide-free, pest-resistant crop varieties.

Worldwide, the reports said, 18 million farmers from 27 countries are already planting biotech crop varieties. And, guess which country has planted the most number of hectares to biotech crops?

Yes, it is the United States.

According to the report, American farms account for 40 percent of the total number of land planted to these varieties that have built-in resistance to pests and therefore do not need chemical pesticides.

Other countries that have followed in the footsteps of US farmers are in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

This is interesting. Greenpeace, the Europe-based activist group, has mounted a cruel propaganda war against agriculture biotechnology, reportedly spending hundreds of millions of dollars in propaganda and ground operations against trial farms planted with biotech crops.

Despite the longstanding efforts and huge financial war chest on the part of Greenpeace, adoption of biotech crops continue to grow worldwide.

Is this because Greenpeace’s hysterical propaganda lines against biotechnology have failed to do their job?

It will be recalled that when a biotech corn variety was introduced to our country in the early 2000s, Greenpeace warned Filipino farmers that the plant would cause “cancer, deaths and deformities.”

Some of Greenpeace’s local allies, notably members of the clergy, have even gone to the extent of telling farmers that biotech crops “causes homosexuality.”

However, despite the well-funded and well-orchestrated campaign, it looks like Filipino farmers were not swayed by Greenpeace after all. Even with hundreds of millions of dollars allegedly spent by Greenpeace operatives and propagandists, Filipino farmers have planted close to one million hectares of land to biotech corn — the variety that does not need European pesticides to survive pests.

Is the apparent failure of its propaganda machinery the reason why Greenpeace is now using our courts to stop our scientists and farmers from further expanding the adoption of biotechnology in the agriculture sector?

As we have discussed before, Greenpeace is now working on the Supreme Court (SC) to permanently ban our scientists from conducting field trials for biotech crops. With its huge financial resources, Greenpeace managed to get the Court of Appeals (CA) to issue the initial stop order. It is now trying to find out if it can make the Philippine Supreme Court to do the same, permanently.

We cannot blame the European activist group Greenpeace for resorting to the use of our own courts to stop the progress of agriculture science in the country. It must be under some kind of pressure to deliver results. After all, Greenpeace is accountable to its patrons and must show that the hundreds of millions of dollars in donations it receives are able to produce results.

If Greenpeace is able to do with the SC what it succeeded in doing at the CA, then it may the end of the role of modern agriculture biotechnology in the country’s efforts to solve hunger and farm productivity problems.

Pest infestation remains a major scourge in our farms. Without the help of our scientists who are dedicated to finding answers to this scourge, our farmers may have to continue their dependence on chemical pesticides.

What Greenpeace failed to do with its well-funded propaganda machinery, it just might succeed in doing with its legal apparatus.

Filipinos may not be able to stop that. A determined activist group operating with big money just might be unstoppable at this point.