The Green Fringe

Wild Environmentalists

Background: Some environmental activist groups use junk science, scare tactics, and aggression (both real and rhetorical) to frighten consumers about what’s on their plate.

  • Earth First (EF) has branded those working in the biotechnology industry as “eco-terrorists.”
  • The Earth Liberation Front (ELF), which the FBI calls “the largest and most active U.S.-based terrorist group,” has used arson and fire-bombings to intimidate the public. One former ELF spokesperson declared that terrorism “can be OK” and “can be justified.”
  • Greenpeace activists consistently campaign against modern biotechnology in food. The group’s former Executive Director defended his group’s aggressive posture, saying: “There are many organizations out there that value credibility, but I want Greenpeace first and foremost to be a credible threat.”
  • The Sierra Club, once dedicated to conserving wilderness for future human enjoyment, has become an anti-growth, anti-technology group that puts a utopian environmentalist vision before the well-being of people.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) protests against biotech food that has been shown to help starving people in developing countries.

But saving the earth is a good thing, right? These mainstream groups espouse a dangerous, radical agenda of which the public is largely unaware.

  • Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore, who has left the group, described his former organization as “a band of scientific illiterates who use Gestapo tactics.” In 2000, Moore described the group as “anti-human”; “anti-technology and anti-science”; “pro-anarchy”; “anti-trade”; “anti-free-enterprise”; “anti-democratic”; and “basically anti-civilization.”
  • Moore also says of Greenpeace’s opposition to genetically modified food, “The campaign of fear now being waged against genetic modification is based largely on fantasy and a complete lack of respect for science and logic.”
  • In 2001, the animal rights group PETA gave $1,500 to support ELF’s “program activities.” That same year, PETA’s Bruce Friedrich said: “I think it would be a great thing if all of these fast-food outlets, and these slaughterhouses, and these laboratories, and the banks that fund them exploded tomorrow. I think it’s perfectly appropriate for people to take bricks and toss them through the windows, and everything else along the line. Hallelujah to the people who are willing to do it.”

The Bottom Line: Being kind to the planet is great, but some green groups have moved far out on the fringes of society. Real science should always top junk science—even junk science promoted with the best of intentions.

  • Greenpeace has warned that genetic crop engineering would cause new and horrible food allergies (it hasn’t), and that biotech corn would endanger monarch butterflies (whose numbers have increased substantially since the introduction of biotech corn).
  • UCS has similarly tried to play the “butterfly card” by investing significant resources in “a multiyear effort to protect Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a valuable natural pesticide, by bringing high visibility to a preliminary report on the toxic effect of transgenic [biotech] corn pollen on the Monarch Butterfly.” Unfortunately for them, both the USDA and the EPA have concluded that Bt corn is only a threat to the crop-devastating insects it’s supposed to kill.
  • International food policy expert Dr. Robert Paarlberg writes: “Greens and GM critics argue that powerful new technologies should be kept under wraps until tested for unexpected or unknown risks as well. Never mind that testing for something unknown is logically impossible (the only way to avoid a completely unknown risk is never to do anything for the first time).”