By Andrea Lim
In their opposition stand against genetically-modified (GM) food products, Greenpeace has shown their support towards multinational companies in the agriculture business.
The point of having GM crops, as in the case of Bt corn and Bt eggplant, is to reduce the use of pesticides and other chemicals used in agriculture by making the plant resistant to pests through alterations in its genetic makeup.
The environment group maintains a pro-farmer, pro-environment stance and yet fuels false notions in the Philippines and elsewhere by labeling GM food, or genetically modified food, as a “threat to national security and nutrition.”
The majority of the their claim is based on perceived human health risks, despite that there already exists a broad scientific consensus stating that food derived from GM crops causes no greater risk than those of conventional food.
According to healthresearchfunding.org, the modifications in the crops allow them to become resistant to drought and infestations. GM food also has a better overall quality and taste compared to that of conventional food, and it contains more nutrition benefits.
GM technology has also proven to have drastically cut the use of pesticides and increased profits in the agriculture sector. Independent studies in North America have shown an almost 50% reduction of herbicide use on commercially grown herbicide-tolerant crops.
In the Philippines, Greenpeace has gone as far as convincing farmers to destroy GM crops, such as the ‘Golden Rice’ planted in Pili, Camarines Sur and the experimental eggplant farm in Bay, Laguna, in order to serve the interests of mega corporations that make pesticides.
GM crops are able to substantially cut pesticide use, cut production cost for farmers, reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals, and benefit consumers through lower prices while protecting their health and enhancing environmental protection.
Thus, the implication is clear – Greenpeace makes a show of rejecting government and corporate money, while maintaining a relationship with World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), that which is closely linked to global companies like Coca-Cola and has a history of receiving cheques from Shell Oil.
Even in decades back, Greenpeace made an arrangement with the WWF who agreed to finance their campaign to “save the whales” in exchange for Greenpeace’s procurement of the original Rainbow Warrior, a diesel-powered electric ship built in the UK.
Genetic modification is like any other new technology that should be viewed in light of development that has already gone on before. Man has been manipulating genetics for thousands of years.
Wheat, for example, is a hybrid of different species that is only maintained artificially. Traditional (that is, non-GM) wheat is unable to exist in the wild because it is incapable of seed dispersal.
Plant breeders have even influenced its genetics with chromosomes from several other species. GM technology allows genes to be added more precisely and effects to be studied more carefully.
GENERAL Motors named a new vehicle safety chief on Tuesday in response to a growing scandal over its failure to react to an ignition switch defect linked to 12 deaths.
In the newly created position of vice president for global vehicle safety, Jeff Boyer will have responsibility for the safety during development and testing of GM vehicles.
He will also be responsible for monitoring reports of problems that occur with vehicles after they are sold, and issuing recalls as needed.
“This new role elevates and integrates our safety process under a single leader so we can set a new standard for customer safety with more rigorous accountability,” GM chief Mary Barra said in a statement.
“If there are any obstacles in his way, Jeff has the authority to clear them. If he needs any additional resources, he will get them.”
The largest US automaker is facing multiple investigations by US authorities over its slowness to react to evidence linking a defective ignition switch to 31 accidents and 12 deaths in various models.
The problem was detected at the pre-production stage as early as 2001, but GM waited until last month to recall 1.6 million vehicles in North America.
The ignition recall is the first big crisis for Barra, who took the company’s helm on January 15 as the first woman to lead a major automaker.
Barra has responded forcefully, apologizing for the “terrible things” that happened after “something went wrong with our process” and vowing to make sure such mistakes don’t happen again.
She offered her condolences to the families of victims Tuesday, but the Detroit News reported that she declined to comment on whether GM would accept liability for accidents that happened prior to its 2009 emergence from bankruptcy.
“Clearly lives have been lost and lives have been affected and that is very serious,” Barra told reporters in Detroit.
“We want to extend our deep condolences for those losses.”
Barra launched an internal probe which resulted in the recall of nearly 1.8 million more vehicles Monday, for three different defects unrelated to the ignition problems.
Boyer, 58, has spent nearly 40 years in a wide range of engineering and safety positions at GM. He will provide regular updates to senior management and GM’s board of directors.