Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Greenpeace abandons science and attacks Golden Rice

Join me in a story that traveled two decades from 1999 to early this year, when efforts to reduce premature death and childhood blindness in the developing world may finally reach fruition. This can occur through the use of a special grain called Golden Rice. It’s daffodil like color occurs from the presence of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A in the human body.

It was developed by Professor Ingo Potrykus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, where Albert Einstein had studied and taught, and his colleague Peter Beyer of the University of Freiburg. They began their effort in 1990 to develop a genetic pathway to move the beta-carotene from the leaves of the most popular rice plant in the third world, Oryza-sativa, into the plant’s edible kernels. They achieved this result in 1999 after a decade of intense effort.

Sadly, the use of this Golden Rice has not been allowed now for 20 years as a result of the anti-genetic modifications movement led by Greenpeace. This January the government of the Philippines, after years of study, has approved its use. But Greenpeace is not finished. They are attempting one last gasp effort to prevent the use of this boon to human health by throwing it back into the Philippine courts. They are claiming that the internationally recognized Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety’s principal 15, otherwise known as the “precautionary principle” has not been adequately observed. The protocol is an agreement aimed at ensuring safe handling , transport and use of living modified organisms resulting from biotechnology. There has been two decades of successful research on the safety of Golden Rice including its toxicity and allergenicity along with human studies on American adults and Chinese children.

At every turn, for two decades, Greenpeace has led the opposition from many anti-GMO groups, to keep it from the diets of impoverished children in the third world. They have resorted to illegally destroying test crops, and mounting a global disinformation campaign.

Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is practically unknown in the Western world where people take multivitamins, and get sufficient micronutrients from ordinary foods, and fortified cereals. But in the third world lack of vitamin A is responsible for over a million deaths annually, most of them children, plus at least 500,000 cases of blindness in Bangladesh, China, and elsewhere in Asia. In these areas, many children subsist on only a bowl of rice a day and little else. For these children a daily supply of Golden Rice could bring the gift of life and sight.

Remarkably there is no commercial aspect to this terrible story. Potrykus and Beyer gave away the rights to their invention for anyone to use. It is available at no extra cost for any grain company to make available. Growers of Golden rice can even keep their own seeds from year to year without having to pay for the use of the technology as is often the case for other genetically modified grains.

I sat down one day years ago with the late Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Prize winner in Agriculture in 1970. Dr. Borlaug had won the award for his development of semi-dwarf wheat which dramatically increased grain yields, saving millions from starvation around the world in the 1950s and 1960s. I asked him why he thought Golden Rice had raised such objections, when he had not faced such opposition for his work on wheat, originally in Mexico. He told me that biotechnology had not yet gotten a big enough foothold to scare the folks who are intent on reducing the world’s population, rather than improving human health. He told me that these anti-GMO people want to see the world population decline. They desire to play God in choosing the ones who were to leave the planet which most assuredly would not include them

Greenpeace, once a fine organization co-founded by Patrick Moore to Save The Whales was taken over by anti-human, greedy people gaining fame and fortune by defeating human progress at every turn.

Surely the time has come when Anti-GMO activists and the green parties should stand down in their unwarranted opposition to Golden Rice. They should join the many groups working to improve human nutrition and embrace this humanitarian innovation. The public needs to know that not a single human being has been sickened or has died from the ingestion of a genetically modified grain, and the scientific evidence that they are safe is overwhelming.

Given the scale of human suffering, that Golden Rice will address, there may be no better example of a purely philanthropic project in the whole of human history. Yet some misguided environmental activists still oppose Golden Rice to this day. Perhaps it is time to recognize that these people are not misguided but are in fact are the personification of EVIL.


Tesla’s German plant sets off water debate

Environmental stewardship is much more than merely low-emissions power, as Tesla is finding out in Germany. German environmentalists assert a proposed Tesla assembly plant outside Berlin would put unacceptable strains on German water supplies and require the leveling of ecologically valuable forest land. Tesla, which rides environmental messaging as a primary marketing tool, is responding by claiming water availability and forest conservation are overblown environmental concerns.

As reported by Reuters (, approximately 250 people protested outside Berlin after a Brandenburg water association warned construction and operation of the plant would cause “extensive and serious problems with the drinking water supply and wastewater disposal.”

“I am not against Tesla … But it’s about the site; in a forest area that is a protected wildlife zone. Is this necessary?” environmentalist Anne Bach told Reuters.

Deforestation has long been a problem in Germany and throughout Europe. Conservationists warn that clearing ecologically crucial forest land for the Tesla plant is destructive, unnecessary, and sets a bad precedent.

Musk responded by tweeting, “this is not a natural forest — it was planted for use as cardboard.”

A recently published study by CFACT senior policy advisor Paul Driessen, “Protecting the Environment from the Green New Deal,” ( documents how wind power, solar power and other climate activist priorities frequently cause more environmental harm than they solve.

Leveling scarce German forest land and harming German water quality and quantity appear to be just such an example.


Chemophobia: Nearly 40% Of Europeans Want A Chemical-Free World

A new study reveals that nearly 40% of Europeans want to "live in a world where chemical substances don't exist." Another 82% didn't know that table salt is table salt, whether it is extracted from the ocean or made synthetically.

It's not a secret that the average person is scientifically illiterate. The question is, "Just how scientifically illiterate?" The answer is appalling.

Researchers Michael Siegrist and Angela Bearth report in the journal Nature Chemistry on a survey they conducted to gauge Europeans' attitudes toward chemicals. They had about 700 respondents from each of eight countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom, for a total of 5,631 participants.

The first series of questions was designed to measure chemophobia, the irrational fear of chemicals. As shown below, 30% of Europeans report being "scared" of chemicals, and about 40% try to "avoid contact with chemical substances" and want to "live in a world where chemical substances don't exist." Obviously, this is impossible. Everything -- water, food, your smartphone -- is a chemical or a combination of chemicals.

The second series of questions was designed to assess basic chemistry and toxicology knowledge. The results were far worse: 82% of respondents didn't know that table salt is table salt, whether it is extracted from the ocean or made synthetically. Another 91% didn't know that "the dose makes the poison" is true, even for synthetic chemicals.

How can people be so uneducated in a society that has access to all knowledge ever produced by humanity? The authors offer a quite plausible explanation.

They note that the public is far removed from the processes required to produce the materials that we use on a daily basis. People simply don't understand how food safely arrives on their plate or a smartphone lands in their pocket. Because of this, people rely on mental shortcuts (simple heuristics) to make decisions. The decisions are usually wrong because the heuristics are logical fallacies.

For instance, the authors cite the common "natural is better" fallacy, in which people erroneously conclude that things found in nature are safer than synthetic versions. Another is the "contagion" heuristic, in which it is believed that even the tiniest amount of a toxic substance is harmful and "contaminates" everything with which it comes into contact. Under this strange light, a single molecule of a toxin is just as dangerous as a metric ton.

Yet another is the "trust" heuristic, which is essentially a fallacious appeal to authority. People trust others who share their values, not experts. So, if a popular celebrity says that you should put coffee in your butt, by golly, some people are going to do it.

My only gripe with the paper is that the authors seem to back away from the most obvious conclusion:

"It is not our intention to propagate a naïve deficit model postulating that a lack of knowledge is the only reason for negative perceptions of synthetic chemicals."

Why not? That's the correct answer.


Philosophy as an antidote to the global warming craze

The need to counter  ‘global warming’ indoctrination becomes ever more urgent. I suggest taking just one element of the agenda and aiming to create doubt in the minds of those taken in by it.

Chipping away at the brain washing seems to be more effective than launching broadsides. So enraging is the entire issue that this is often easier said than done, but, by following my own advice, I recently had a letter published in the magazine ‘Philosophy Now’.

Here is my letter:

Dear Editor:

I wish to express my consternation that a professor of philosophy, Wendy Lynne Lee, should support the value-laden term  ‘climate change denier’  (‘Dewey & Climate Denial’ in Issue 135).  She does not define this concept, but a ‘climate change denier’ would appear to be anyone who questions the assumptions that (a) the planet is heating up unusually, and (b) that this is caused primarily by CO2 emitted by the burning of fossil fuels. These are matters of scientific observation which may or may not be true. However, if a person may not question them without condemnation, what becomes of Karl Popper’s principle of falsifiability ?

Worst of all, perhaps, the word ‘denier’ is habitually associated with ‘holocaust denier’. The application of the term is to imply an appalling moral deficit.  Those who wish to live in a peaceful, reasonable and rational world should decry the use of the term ‘denier’.

Rosie Langridge

Here’s the story:

Philosophy Now is a well-established magazine  based in London.

Wendy Lynn Lee is professor of philosophy at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania but nonetheless her article is such a terrible muddle that it was hard to know where to begin a letter in response. I picked out what I see as the critical issue here, the attempt from many directions to close down any discussion of the ‘global warming’ agenda, be that by claiming/assuming that the science is ‘settled’, or by branding those who question as ‘deniers’. By contrast, philosophers should be the last people who cease to question.

As I was writing to a magazine dedicated to philosophy, I decided not to challenge the data, the science, the assumptions of warming, or even the twists and turns of her ‘reasoning’; instead I homed in on the philosophical arguments and was delighted to be published by the magazine in the following issue.


Australian PM reinforces coal commitment

Scott Morrison has used question time to firmly back coal jobs, as Labor attacked the government on the proposed Collinsville power plant and the divisions in the Coalition over climate change.

The Prime Minister sustained multiple attacks from the Opposition on his handling of the economy and climate divisions.

When asked if he would give the Collinsville plant indemnity against climate risk if it ever goes ahead, Mr Morrison said that he would back any jobs that come out of a coal-fired power station.

“I know where Collinsville is, you mightn’t. I know where the jobs are in Collinsville also,” he told the House. “They are the jobs you want to take away.

“Our government believes in jobs. We believe in jobs in North Queensland. We believe in jobs in northern Tasmania. We believe in jobs in Western Australia.

“And I can tell the House that we are united on the need to ensure that we meet our emissions reduction targets, not by increasing taxes on people, not by putting up people’s electricity prices, and not by walking away from the jobs of Australians in rural and regional areas.”

Labor spent most of question time hitting the government on sluggish economic growth and Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers questioned its stance that coronavirus and the bushfires were behind the deterioration in the economy.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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