The Soil Association (SA), Britain’s foremost organic food organisation, is indirectly responsible for the deaths of millions of children because of its ongoing opposition to Golden Rice, a leading environmentalist has claimed.
Dr Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, has accused the Soil Association — which claims to be responsible for the certification of around 70 percent of organic produce in the UK — of using “lies and scare tactics” and “anti-science extremism” in its campaign against the “miracle” genetically-modified (GM) crop, Golden Rice.
Golden Rice is modified to cure vitamin A deficiency, which kills more than two million children each year, and causes another 500,000 to go blind.
But the Soil Association claims that Golden Rice is expensive, ineffective, unethical and potentially dangerous.
Moore has vigorously rejected all these claims in a 5000-word rebuttal published on his Allow Golden Rice Now website, where he states, “[The Soil Association] have joined those extremist groups that are responsible for prolonging the approval of Golden Rice. They would sacrifice two million children per year on the altar of their ideology.”
The Soil Association claims that “Golden Rice is sadly a classic case of misspent time and resources”, whereas Moore responds that, “If Golden Rice delivers as promised, and all indications are that it will, it will be one of the most cost-effective cures for a major killer in history”.
The SA has also commented that Golden Rice “…is only treating the part of the symptom, not the problem – poverty,” to which Moore replied, “It is surely better to live in poverty with a healthy immune system and the sight in both eyes than it is to be blind or dead”.
The organisation, founded in 1946, may have a fairly modest annual budget of £7 million, but its influence is huge. As Britain’s leading organic certification body it helps regulate a UK industry worth in excess of £2 billion, and influences a global market worth more than $50 billion.
It has warned that, “A key weapon is to advise parents, the key target audience, of the dangers of rice based diets”.
Dr. Moore, who often finds himself in disagreement with green organisations, including the one he helped found, Greenpeace, said: “This shows how misguided the Soil Association is. We are to warn people who eat rice as their staple food of the “dangers of rice-based diets”? All three and a half billion of them?”
He also attacked the SA’s claim that “overdosing on beta-carotene has been linked to an increased cancer risk”.
“The Soil Association should be very ashamed to make this statement,” Moore wrote. “At first the anti-Golden Rice campaigners said there was not enough beta-carotene in Golden Rice to help with the deficiency. Now they say there could be too much?”
“Golden Rice is actually very close to being ready for commercialisation. If it were not for the unnecessarily onerous regulatory requirements – [partly the result of hysterical anti-GM campaigning by NGOs like Greenpeace and the Soil Association] – it would already be available.”
“The campaign against GM technology is a classic propaganda campaign based on fear of the unknown. As Greenpeace has said of Golden Rice, ‘there may be unforeseen health issues’. ‘Unforeseen’ sounds scary, but it really indicates that they know of nothing that could be harmful. And note the tentative nature of ‘may be’. Indeed there isn’t anything to the campaign but fear tactics to raise cash contributions from well intentioned, but misguided, supporters.”
The full text of Moore’s rebuttal can be read at the Allow Golden Rice Now website.