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Greenpeace’s watermelons love starving Africans

Greenpeace has certainly achieved a great deal in mobilising people to protect our environment. But there have also been accusations that Greenpeace’s current bosses are ‘watermelons’ – green on the outside, red on the inside – and that behind their environmental campaigning is a hatred of capitalism and big business

Amongst Greenpeace’s many ‘successes’ are two in particular which have been catastrophic and continue to be catastrophic for the poor – their attacks on oil companies by promoting the use of biofuels and their opposition to GM (genetically-modified) crops:

1. Biofuels – Greenpeace were one of the prime movers in convincing EU leaders to adopt a policy demanding that 10% of all vehicle fuel must consist of biofuels.  One 2002 report on the EU’s biofuels proposal presciently concluded: ‘The proposal does not make much sense, neither from an economic, an energy, nor an ecological point of view.’ However, anxious to demonstrate what it called ‘Europe’s global leadership in tackling climate change’, as part of its 20/20/20 environmental goals in 2007 the EU Commission imposed a mandatory target of 10 per cent of biofuels in transport fuel by 2020.

The Greenpeace/EU’s love affair with biofuels since 2002 seems to have had at least three worrying effects: a massive increase in biofuel production, leading to a diversion of land and crops from food production and extensive deforestation in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia; a burst of speculation in food on commodity exchanges as poor harvests and increased demand due to US and EU biofuels targets led to huge profits for speculators; and an explosion in food prices, which increased by 12 per cent in 2006, 24 per cent in 2007 and over 50 per cent in 2008. There were food riots in several countries and some people believe it was rising food prices which sparked off the Arab Spring which has now turned into the *sl*mic Winter.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimated that an extra 75 million people worldwide have been pushed into hunger and poverty due to the rapid rise in the cost of food (click to see more clearly)

biofuels

Naturally, the EU has denied that its biofuels policy had any significant effect on food prices. The agriculture commissioner explained: ‘As regards the 10 per cent target by 2020, the Commission impact assessment of the EU biofuel policy shows that its achievement should not cause major strain in the food sector’.

This sanguine view of the well-fed Brussels bureaucrats was not shared by many experts outside the Brussels bubble. Two international bodies calculated that biofuels were responsible for up to 60 per cent of food price rises, while the World Bank estimated that up to 75 per cent of the increase in food prices was due to biofuels. The UN FAO cautioned: ‘Policy measures driving the rush to liquid biofuels, such as mandated mixing of biofuels with fossil fuels … have high economic, social and environmental costs and should be reviewed’. A policy adviser at Oxfam said: ‘Political leaders seem intent on suppressing and ignoring the strong evidence that biofuels are a major factor in recent food price rises.’ The UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food was more direct when he commented that biofuels could only bring ‘more hunger to the poor people of the world’ and that they were a ‘crime against humanity’.

2. GM crops – just in the last few weeks, Greenpeace’s watermelons have chalked up a supposed ‘victory’ against the large agricultural companies who have been pushing the introduction of GM crops. After coming under intense pressure from Greenpeace and other lobby groups, the President of the EU Commission the tax avoidance specialist Jean Claude Juncker, axed the post of chief scientific adviser because of that person’s views on GM crops being safe

“The current chief scientific adviser presented one-sided, partial opinions on the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture, repeatedly claiming that there was a scientific consensus about their safety,” said a letter in July signed by Greenpeace and other green groups. “We hope that you as the incoming commission president will decide not to nominate a chief scientific adviser.”

We in the West may have enough to eat. But in many Third World countries new drought- and disease-resistant strains of rice, corn and wheat are desperately needed. Moreover, because of their resistance to many pests, some GM crops actually use less fertilizer and so are more environmentally-friendly than more traditional strains. And anyway, humans have been modifying crops to improve yields for tens of thousands of years. But, ever anxious to protect us against the ‘evil’ agricultural companies, Greenpeace’s watermelons have dealt another devastating blow to the world’s poor.

I wonder how the Greenpeace watermelon lobbyists in Brussels will celebrate their latest ‘victory’? Perhaps with a slap-up meal at one of Brussels’ best restaurants?

3 comments to Greenpeace’s watermelons love starving Africans

  • Keen Reader

    You can’t debate rationally with such blinkered idiots. Those at the top are in it, as always, solely for personal financial and political gain – a cosy billet in Brussels or Westminster, both financed by us. Those lower down the food chain are the same scientifically ignorant who would have us all take to electric cars, totally overlooking the fact that manufacturing the batteries for these monstrosities consumes enormous amounts of minerals and petro-chemicals and the electricity to power them has to be generated somehow, somewhere. Just pass the hunger and pollution buck down the line to wherever we can’t see and smell it is the philosophy of the Greens!

  • Stuz Graz

    “Just pass the hunger and pollution buck down the line to wherever we can’t see and smell it is the philosophy of the Greens!”

    Seem to recall that in recent times they were also happier for old contaminated ships be broken up on beaches by small asian children rather than by a qualified company with all the necessary expertise and permits in the UK.

  • MGJ

    I find myself in the unusual position of (partially) defending Greenpeace! As lobbyists go, I find them no more offensive than any others. Whilst they may be flat wrong about a lot of things, I see them as generally sincere in their beliefs; a motivation which is preferable to the greedy self-interest of the corrupt croney-capitalists who own most of our politicians.

    The EU and UK politicians and decision makers are an entirely different matter. They are well paid and highly resourced to make logical, defensible decisions based on the available facts and to represent those they were elected (not relevant to EU…) by, not to cow-tow to Greenpeace or indeed any other lobby. Without Greenpeace, would Brussels have produced intelligent, well thought out policy? I think not.

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