Fbae Logo
Home | | Support Us | Contact Us
Goals & Objectives Our Position False Propaganda Important Publications Important Links Events News Biosafety
Fbae Header Home




Cloudy Tactics of Greenpeace
Prof. C Kameswara Rao
Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education, Bangalore, India
krao@vsnl.com, www.fbae.org

Some recent events focus on not so honourable tactics of anti-tech activists, more particularly the Greenpeace. 

MON863 is Monsanto’s transgenic corn containing the Bt gene Cry 3Bb1, for protection against the corn rootworm.  This was approved as food and/or feed in Australia, Canada, China, Europe, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Philippines, Taiwan and USA.  Shown to be substantially equivalent to the non-transgenic corn, and grown on millions of acres, MON863 is being safely eaten by countless humans and animals for years.

In March 2007, the Hamburg office of Greenpeace, citing Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and co-workers (of CRIIGEN, a French Science Research Institute), announced that ‘a new study by independent French scientists’ shows that ‘gene-corn’ carries ‘potential health risks.’ In feeding studies, rats allegedly showed ‘symptoms of poisoning and damage to the liver and kidneys’ and supposedly, ‘a health risk for approved gene-plants has been proven.’

After a re-examination of the issue, the German Federal Institute for Risk Evaluation (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung) stated in March 2007, that the ‘renewed statistical analysis of the data does not provide any reason’ to question the earlier findings. A month later, the same thing was reiterated by France's Food Safety Authority (AFSSA).

On June 28, 2007, the safety of MON863 was reconfirmed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which has evaluated the new interpretations of the bioassays by Greenpeace and concluded that Greenpeace’s data do not ‘raise any new safety concerns’. 

It now looks that Greenpeace had resurrected and reinterpreted the old feeding studies of 2004 on rats, which were sufficiently examined in the original risk assessment.   Marcel Kuntz has more details of the hijack of MON863 debate.

MON810, with Cry 1Ab, against European corn borer, is yet another marked by Greenpeace.  In July 2005, the EFSA had approved as devoid of adverse effects on human and animal health or the environment, even a hybrid of MON863 x MON810 maize varieties. 

Greenpeace has also aimed at gunning down NK603, Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicide resistant corn, again with the support of Professor Séralini’s group, claiming that NK603 is ‘possibly injurious to health’ as rat feeding studies supposedly demonstrated ‘effects on the functions of the kidneys, brain, heart and liver.’ The EFSA concluded that the NK603 maize is as safe as conventional maize and therefore the placing on the market of NK603 maize for food, feed or processing is unlikely to have an adverse effect on human or animal health or on the environment.’  Thomas Deichmann (Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, July 10, 2007) observes that ‘we'll see how much money and anxiety will be wasted in examining Greenpeace's hypochondria’.

Anti-tech activists seem believe in repetition for the sake of emphasis.     Their websites repeatedly post the same stories, misleading casual readers into believing each time that it is additional proof of the risks of transgenic technology.  Monarch butterflies, allergens in transgenic Brazil-nut soybean, transgenic crops becoming super weeds, and such others have all been repeated several times.  

In India, activists show-cased the death of some sheep allegedly on consuming Bt cotton stubble in a few districts of Andhra Pradesh.  Death of goats and cattle was also attributed to Bt cotton and number of dead animals progressively increased from a score to 1600.  To cap it, Bt cotton is to take the blame for farmer suicides.   This exercise was aimed at transforming stray local incidents into global phenomena.

Greenpeace supported a short-term research project ‘Rapid bio-diversity assessment of Dhamra estuary, Orissa, India’ proposed by Dr Susil Kumar Dutta, Department of Zoology, North Orissa University (NOU), who submitted a report to Greenpeace after conducting the survey.  Soon, to their utter dismay, the researchers found that a report in their name was posted on Greenpeace’s website under the title ‘Bio-diversity Assessment of Dhamra port site and surrounding areas, Orissa'.  Following a critical examination, the NOU alleged that Greenpeace has doctored NOU’s report in several places including the title, deleting and adding parts, to suit Greenpeace’s demand to stop the Dhamra port project, which the Government of Orissa consider as vital for the economy of the State.   Now the NOU is contemplating legal action against Greenpeace to protect its image and credibility.

The NOU issue attracted the attention of the State Legislature.  On July 13, 2007, the Speaker of the Orissa State Legislative Assembly directed the State Government to take criminal action against Greenpeace, for tampering with a research report of the NOU on the biodiversity assessment of Dhamra estuary and for publicizing the doctored report on Greenpeace’s website, in the name of NOU.

The State’s Ministers for Higher Education and, Commerce and Transport have accused the Greenpeace of sabotaging the establishment of Dhamra Port on the Orissa coast.  Members of the Assembly, cutting across party lines, demanded strong action against Greenpeace for circulating a motivated report in an attempt to stop the construction work of the Dhamra Port.

Hijacking and doctoring official reports and posting them on private websites by anti-tech activists is not new in India.   In February 2007, Gene Campaign (GC) posted on its website ‘a report of the Indian Planning Commission’ on ‘Biodiversity and Genetically Modified Organisms’.  The Chairperson of GC happens to be the Chairperson of the Task Force too.   GC’s posting was enthusiastically projected by some international anti-tech organizations, as an ‘important official report on GM regulation in India’.  Perplexed to find a supposedly official report of the Government of India on a private website, analysts also found that the report which ‘castigated existing GM regulatory authorities and rules’ was apparently tailored to suit GC’s agenda of blocking transgenic agricultural biotechnology.   On April 11, 2007, three members of the Task Force said in a letter, ‘We disassociate ourselves from any recommendations made that seek to impose a moratorium for commercialization of GM crops. We have not received any communication from the Planning Commission or from the chairman of the taskforce for formal discussions on the recommendations.’ The Times of India (June 2, 2007) observed that the dissenting members wrote their letter after being requested by the Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education, Bangalore, to raise a ‘protest against which aspects of the issue’ they did not agree with, as the report could be used to support a certain argument in an ongoing Public Interest Litigation pending in Supreme Court of India against GM trials.

July 21, 2007