Dr Patrick Moore is an internationally renowned ecologist and environmentalist. Beginning his career as a co-founder and activist in the Greenpeace movement, he became profoundly disenchanted by the direction that Greenpeace had detoured into. He now concentrates on collaborative efforts aimed at finding environmental solutions. He is the Chair and spokesperson for the Allow Golden Rice Society. Through late October and early November, The Galileo Movement, which fights against deceit and corruption in science, organised an Australian speaking tour by Patrick Moore (PM), where Savvy Street’s Vinay Kolhatkar (VK) took the opportunity to meet him.
VK: What was it like, growing up on Vancouver Island?
PM: I was a lucky child to be born into a tiny village of fishers and loggers on the remote northwest end of Vancouver Island, in the rain forest, by the Pacific Ocean. My home until I was 14 was part of a floating community of loggers, there were no roads to Winter Harbour and all travel was by boat. I went to school by boat every day to a one-room schoolhouse in the fishing village. It was truly a unique and idyllic childhood. I developed an innate love of nature playing on the tidal flats by the salmon spawning streams in the rain forest. Today I have a cabin there and Eileen and I return to it every summer to picnic, walk the outer Pacific beaches, fish for salmon, and enjoy the wilderness.
VK: In your formative years, who were your philosophical heroes?
PM: My parents bought for me, the oldest child, the Books of Knowledge, an encyclopaedic work with history, science, geography etc. I became interested in the Solar System and the planets. I read about Wernher von Braun who pioneered rocket technology. Then when I was 15, my mother introduced me to the writings of Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher. This began my fascination with science, history and philosophy. I still believe in his approach of Logical Positivism, or as Matt Ridley describes it today Rational Optimism.
When I was in Grade 11 and was top of class at my English-style boarding school in Vancouver, I was given as a form-prize a book by my namesake, Sir Patrick Moore, whose TV series, The Sky at Night, was the longest-running series on the BBC. I followed his career from then on. I have followed the writings of, and made a personal visit to James Lovelock, founder of the Gaia hypothesis. Michael Crichton is a hero of mine as he had a steel-trap understanding of the scientific method, something that is apparently not taught to students any longer. He also said, “I am certain there is too much certainty in the world”, which to me speaks to the duty of scientists to remain skeptical of unproven claims and hypotheses.
VK: Why have you made Golden Rice your life’s mission today?
PM: When I helped to found Greenpeace, it was with a strong humanitarian perspective. The “peace” in Greenpeace was about ending the threat of nuclear war. As Greenpeace evolved, the Peace part was lost and only the Green prevailed. When I left Greenpeace 15 years later they, and much of the environmental movement, were portraying humans as the enemies of the earth. This is part of the reason I had to leave.
When the invention of Golden Rice was announced in 1999, I was already a follower of biotechnology. I had studied genetics and biochemistry at university, then done a PhD in Ecology. After leaving Greenpeace, I continued with my thirst for the life sciences. I visited the Monsanto labs and greenhouses in St. Louis in 1996 and spent time with the top scientists. I worked with BIO, the Biotechnology Industry Association in DC, for 4 years around 1998 – 2001. I attended their annual conferences witnessing anarchist, anti-globalization fanatics in black bandanas covering their faces running through the streets like Nazi-Youth.
I met Dr. Ingo Potrykus in Helsinki in 2001 and had lunch with him and his wife Inga. We have been acquaintances and now friends since then. I began to use Golden Rice as an example of the benefits of biotech in my speeches and writings and to point out that Greenpeace was now the enemy of this progress for human health and an end to the suffering and death caused by vitamin A deficiency.
Then when Greenpeace trashed Professor Tang of Tufts for her work in proving Golden Rice delivered vitamin A to children. I wrote “Greenpeace’s Crime Against Humanity” which was widely circulated in the biotech and ag community. Then when Greenpeace-inspired and probably funded urban activists, pretending to be farmers, destroyed the field trial of Golden Rice in the Philippines on Aug 8, 2013. I vowed to get up and do something. My family and I formed the Allow Golden Rice Society and since then we have been campaigning for Golden Rice. In 3 tours to Europe, we have reached 35 million people with a positive message about Golden Rice. Greenpeace is now on the defensive. No one was campaigning for Golden Rice until we came along. We have changed the tone of the discussion on Europe.
In March, we will tour South Asia to the Philippines, Bangladesh and India to bring the campaign to where the children need Golden Rice.
VK: Is Golden Rice in any way fundamentally different from GMO foods in general?
PM: Not fundamentally different in that it is produced with Recombinant DNA Biotechnology like other GMOs. But until now, all GMOs have been created to have benefits to farmers, the customers of the seed companies that create them. This was only logical for the seed companies. But Golden Rice is specifically designed for the consumer, as a nutritional benefit, in this case one that could save 2 million children from death each year. So in that case it is fundamentally different.
VK: Has Golden Rice been adopted by any country on a large scale? If not, what is stopping them?
PM: No country has approved Golden Rice even though it is capable of reducing child deaths by 2 million per year. Much of the reason for this is fanatical opposition by Greenpeace and their allies. They are afraid if Golden Rice succeeds, it will make GMOs look good, which they are, but this will be a “Trojan Horse for GMOs”. Such a cynical move to sacrifice 2 million children per year to support an illogical, unfounded zero-tolerance opposition to one of the best inventions of the past 100 years.
VK: In your opinion, are the Greens: Marxists, profoundly anti-human and anti-science, or in the main severely misguided but good-hearted people?
PM: The leaders of the Greens are extreme leftists, profoundly anti-human, anti-science, and anti-civilization. Recently the IPCC, the climate body, announced that CO2 emissions must be reduced to zero by 2100. Don’t they realize this is the same as saying that the human population should be reduced to zero? Or at least rolled back 10,000 years to before we began to clear land for farming? Greenpeace leader Kumi Naidoo tells his campaigners that they needn’t mind the lifestyles of the celebrities that support them. So it’s OK for Leonardo DiCaprio to have a 300-foot yacht, private jet, and limos waiting at idle, as long as he supports the anti-fossil fuel campaign. The green movement has evolved from well-meaning and good-hearted to a toxic blend of extreme left political ideology and religious fundamentalism rolled into one.
VK: Your banner in the Berlin and North Vancouver demonstrations claimed that Greenpeace is responsible for the deaths of 8 million children via its work in frustrating the adoption of Golden Rice. How did you arrive at that number? Was it from Scientific American?That is over 300 times the number the U.N. claims ISIS has killed (which is 24,000).
PM: UNICEF estimates about 25% of all child deaths are due to vitamin A deficiency, which is about 2 million per year. This all happens quietly while poor mothers and fathers look on helplessly. One ISIS beheading gets 1000 times as much attention, or is it 2 million times as much? (RIP the beheaded). Straight fact is vitamin A deficiency is the biggest killer of children in the world today.
VK: It seems Greenpeace receives approximately $100 million from 31 million subscribers, and annual donations can easily be over $300 million—the 2013 Annual Report says they received €282 million (approximately $350 million) in donations. Presumably, a lot of this money is well-intentioned but dangerously misguided. What if financial regulators understood and accepted Greenpeace’s role in widespread malnourishment, blindness, and deaths of poor children?
PM: It is outrageous that much of Greenpeace’s income is classed as “Charitable” and therefore a tax write-off. Nothing Greenpeace does is charitable. It is all political and some of it destructively so. They are working to undermine whole countries’ energy and food policies.
VK: Would a campaign to nominate Prof Potrykus and Prof Beyer (inventors of Golden Rice) for the Nobel prize in Chemistry be helpful?
PM: The reason the World Food Prize was established is because there is no Nobel Prize for agriculture. Golden Rice would not qualify for Chemistry.
VK: What can the person in the street do to help spread the good word about Golden Rice?
PM: Read our website www.allowgoldenricenow.org, tell your friends, make a donation!
VK: Did the Gates Foundation fund research into Golden Rice? In other words, is even the left-liberal camp on board?
PM: The Gates Foundation is the biggest donor. They are funding the field trials in the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. I think the Gates Foundation is the best thing ever to happen to international aid. They are professionalizing it. Before all you had to have was good feelings, now you need expertise in agriculture, health, etc.
VK: If you had your life all over again, would you become a Greenpeace founder?
PM: Certainly. Many good movements become hijacked by politicos and opportunists. We did good work in our time to help stop the bomb, save the whales and reduce toxic waste going into the air and water. among other things. My favourite personal campaign was to prevent the last attempt to capture a live Orca Whale (Killer Whale) in British Columbia in 1982. Even the Taliban began with good works building schools. But when new organizations gain power they are soon prey to devious elements who turn their aims to evil ends. The world works in mysterious ways!
VK: Many thanks for giving us your time, Dr Moore.