A large group of Nobel laureates has accused Greenpeace of becoming anti-scientific fear mongers, as it called for the environmental group to end its campaign against genetically modified organisms.
A total of 108 Nobel laureates signed the open letter, titled "Why Greenpeace is Wrong about GMOs and Golden Rice, this week. The growing number of signatories pointed to Greenpeace's ardent resistance to the use of Vitamin-A enhanced Golden Rice, a GMO strain meant to alleviate nutritional deficiencies in the developing world. The laureates allege in the letter that the environmental group has led a "fact-challenged propaganda campaign against innovations in agricultural biotechnology."
"GMOs are extensively tested and subjected to a higher degree of regulatory review than any other crops and foods," the letter reads. "Greenpeace have also claimed that Golden Rice would not work; that it would not deliver enough vitamin A to be effective, or that it would produce so much as to be dangerous. All these claims are false."
The debate around GMOs has been fierce in recent years. Many people think the scientifically modified crops are unsafe and some have demanded products containing them should be labeled as such. But a May report from the National Academies of Science found GMOs were safe for humans and animals to eat, though it stated the farming method doesn't increase crop yield.
The report analyzed more than 1,000 studies and excluded those from biotech companies like Monsanto or DuPont, The New York Times notes.
Wilhelmina Pelegrina, a campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, denied the organization was blocking Golden Rice. She told The Huffington Post the GMO initiative "has failed as a solution and isn’t currently available for sale, even after more than 20 years of research."
"Corporations are overhyping Golden Rice to pave the way for global approval of other more profitable genetically engineered crops," Pelegrina said in a statement. "Rather than invest in this overpriced public relations exercise, we need to address malnutrition through a more diverse diet, equitable access to food and eco-agriculture.”
Rather, she said the only guaranteed way to fix malnutrition worries "is a diverse healthy diet."
"Providing people with real food based on ecological agriculture not only addresses malnutrition, but is also a scaleable solution to adapt to climate change," Pelegrina added.
Richard Roberts, the organizer of the laureates' letter and the 1993 winner of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Phillip Sharp, told The Washington Post he endorsed many of Greenpeace's efforts. But he hoped the group would "admit that this is an issue that they got wrong and focus on the stuff that they do well."
You can read the full letter here.