Greenpeace co-founder accused of eco-treason

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by colt45, Jun 19, 2002.

  1. colt45

    colt45 Guest

    Posted on Mon, Jun. 17, 2002

    Greenpeace co-founder accused of eco-treason
    AP Biotechnology Writer

    Nick Didlick/The Vancouver Sun

    TORONTO - It's hard to avoid biblical references when discussing Patrick Moore, a Greenpeace co-founder who now gets paid by the biotech industry and other foes of the environmental organization.

    "Patrick Moore is an eco Judas," said David Suzuki, who taught Moore genetics at the University of British Columbia and is one of Canada's best-known anti-biotech figures.

    Moore, an avowed agnostic, would rather think of himself as the apostle Paul, who converted to Christianity after railing against it for most of his life.

    "I was against three or four things every day of my life," Moore said of his epiphany during a speech this past week at the world's premier biotechnology conference, BIO 2002. "I decided I should be for something."

    During 15 years with Greenpeace, Moore worked against whaling, nuclear testing and the clubbing of baby seals. He was on board the ship Rainbow Warrior the day it was blown up and sunk by the French.

    In 1986, Moore departed, saying Greenpeace was embracing positions too extreme whilst straying from its roots into anti-globalization politics. Greenpeace said he left after losing power a power struggle.

    "I'm not saying we should go back to killing whales and setting off nuclear bombs," Moore said. "I stick by everything we did."

    Moore says Greenpeace in the mid-1980s began groping for other issues to legitimize its existence after succeeding in getting its founding principles adopted by the mainstream.

    He said one of these issues was genetically engineered food, where genes from two different plant species are spliced together to create crops more resistant to herbicides and insects, among other traits.

    Greenpeace and other environmental groups argue that the technology will ultimately lead to stronger bugs and weeds while proving unhealthy for human consumption.

    Biotechnology, Moore said, can increase yields while reducing pesticide use, two potential benefits environmentalists are ignoring.

    "I believe the campaign of fear being waged against genetically modified foods is based mostly on fantasy," Moore said.

    Moore contends that no health problems related to genetically engineered food have been reported anywhere although genetically engineered crops were grown on 130 million acres around the world last year.

    "Not one stomach ache has been attributed to genetically engineered food," he said.

    After Moore left Greenpeace, he tried to make a living as a salmon farmer until 1991. That year, he launched Greenspirit as a natural resources consulting business and joined the industry-supported Forest Alliance of British Columbia. It was then that Greenpeace and other environmentalists said Moore lost his way.

    "He's a turncoat who supports many of the things we oppose," said Greenpeace spokesman Craig Culp. "We basically try not to have anything to do with Patrick Moore."

    Moore's driving force today is "consensus," a notion most environmental groups reject.

    "We have no choice but to find a balance between competing interests," said Moore, 55. "Most environmentalists have adopted zero-tolerance positions in order to remain adversarial. The only way to stay adversarial is to adopt even more extreme positions."

    The Biotechnology Industry Organization, which sponsored the conference, paid Moore for his appearance.

    The previous week, he was in Berlin at the behest of the U.S. embassy there to help sell the benefits of genetically modified food to Germans. Genetically modified food is a thorny trading issue between the United States and much of Europe.

    Moore would not say how much he had received from BIO or further discuss his sources of income.

    He has given talks in southeast Asia about the benefits of genetically engineered crops in developing nations and stumps often for the timber industry, singing its praises for "sustainabilty" policies of replanting trees.

    "If we consume wood, people will grow trees," he said.

    "He is one of my own personal heroes," said Val Giddings, an agricultural specialist with the BIO. All of which earns him the enmity of environmentalists everywhere.

    "Where's he getting his money?" asked Suzuki, unable to hide his anger at the mention of Moore.

    Suzuki hosts "The Nature of Things," a popular television show on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Suzuki, a University of British Columbia professor emeritus and head of a nonprofit environmental foundation, said the long-term health effects of gene splicing are unknown and that it's irresponsible to allow people to eat before more studies are conducted.

    "Let's expose this guy for who he is: a paid industry hack," Suzuki said in an interview. "There is a big issue of credibility."

    Suzuki then gave a speech to about 2,000 people attending an anti-biotech rally where he publicly denounced Moore as "an apologist for the biotech companies."

    In one significant way, though it's not surprising Moore has had a change of heart. His family has owned the W.D. Moore Logging Co. on Vancouver Island for three generations.

    "I came by my positions honestly," Moore said. "And nobody puts words into my mouth. I'm truly independent."


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