Monday, September 02, 2013

Why do some environmentalists want poor kids to die?

There's so much about this story that I find frustrating. Supposed "environmentalists" destroyed a field of Golden Rice in the Philippines (NationalPost):

Aided by well-meaning but misguided organizations such as Greenpeace, such mobs are potentially destroying the opportunity to avoid 680,000 deaths each year. That is morally indefensible.

Golden rice is genetically modified (GM) to have vitamin A. This is important because 3-billion people depend on rice as their staple food, and about 10% are at risk for vitamin A deficiency. The World Health Organization estimates that lack of vitamin A makes 250,000-500,000 kids go blind annually. And studies published in The Lancet estimate that each year, 668,000 children under 5 die from vitamin A deficiency.

Yet, campaigners from Greenpeace to Naomi Klein have derided the attempt to use Golden Rice to avoid such deficiency.

A favorite claim has been that you need to eat 7 kg (15 pounds) of rice per day to get sufficient vitamin A from Golden Rice. This is simply wrong. Two recent studies show that just 50g (2oz) golden rice can provide 60% of daily vitamin A – even better than spinach.
The co-founder of Greenpeace, Dr. Patrick Moore argues that biotech opposition is a crime against humanity (Biotech-now via Instapundit):
He was asked about genetically modified crops, something he describes as one of the most important scientific advancements society has made. That’s why he is particularly concerned about Greenpeace’s success in blocking the introduction of Golden Rice, a GM crop.

“Other GM rice varieties are able to eliminate micronutrient deficiency in the rice eating countries, which afflicts hundreds of million people, and actually causes between a quarter and half a million children to go blind and die young each year because of vitamin A deficiency because there is no beta carotene in rice,” says Moore. “We can put beta carotene in rice through genetic modification, but Greenpeace has blocked this.”

Moore says this is a crime against humanity because they are preventing the curing of people who are dying by the hundreds of thousands a year due to vitamin A deficiency.

He says another example of the positives genetically modified crops provide is they’ve allowed agriculture to do things it couldn’t do otherwise, for example growing soybeans that produce omega-3 fatty acids. He says this will be a boon for the aquaculture industry, vastly increasing its feedstock.

“One of the limitations on aquaculture is that fish and shellfish need omega-3 fats, and the best place to get them is from fishmeal, but fishmeal is a limited supply,” says Moore. “But if we can grow soybeans and other terrestrial crops that have the foods necessary for fish production, we can vastly increase aquaculture.”
What the anti-GMO protesters got wrong (Slate).

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