Search results for: organic consumers association

  • Organic Consumers Association

    The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is another charter member of the organic-food-industry-funded smear campaign against genetically improved foods. OCA was founded by anti-technology zealot Jeremy Rifkin and originally bore the name “Pure Food Campaign.” Since changing its name in 1998, the group has been headed by experienced activist Ronnie Cummins, who has since brought his group and its neo-Luddite message into the Internet age. OCA frequently takes part in Fenton Communications’ larger projects. In addition to foundation support, this group has received five-figure donations from the International Center for Technology Assessment and Aveda “natural” hair-care mogul Horst Rechelbacher.

    OCA works alongside the Chefs Collaborative, Center for Food Safety, and Friends of the Earth on the “Keep Nature Natural” campaign, which is designed to disparage genetically improved foods. This campaign gets its operating funds from several organic marketers, including Whole Foods and Eden. OCA is also a charter member of the Fenton Communications–run “GE Food Alert” coalition, which was responsible for the 2000 StarLink corn scare.

    OCA’s most notable press came in the Spring of 2001 when it announced it was going after the Starbucks coffee chain with an organized protest campaign. Activists (many of them borrowed from sympathetic organizations) have picketed coffee shops in 40 states, demanding that Starbucks (1) stop selling dairy products from cows raised with bovine growth hormone; (2) pledge to never use genetically improved coffee beans; and (3) feature coffee sold by so-called “fair-trade” growers.

    In addition, OCA has joined with Public Citizen and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in opposing potentially lifesaving food-irradiation technology.

  • American Corn Growers Association

    With its all-American name, the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) brings to mind visions of Heartland cornfields and a simple farm life straight out of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” But in reality, ACGA represents a farming style more Cuban than American.

    Founded in 1987, ACGA masquerades as a representative of the United States’s many traditional corn growers. But the ACGA is really an organization that promotes a radically anti-business view of agriculture. ACGA’s president Keith Dittrich summarized the group’s views well in September 1999, when he said, “The fact is that an unregulated free market does not work for — nor does it exist — in agriculture … The only beneficiaries are the greedy multinational corporations.”

    ACGA hopes farmers and consumers will confuse it with the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the much larger mainstream organization that really represents corn growers. Unlike the ACGA, which has a Politburo-style structure in which the group’s leaders issue position statements by fiat, the NCGA actually promotes policies set by its rank and file.

    ACGA’s real purpose is to promote organic corn and its producers, and to trash-talk genetically improved foods. Rather than concentrate on issues important to family farmers, ACGA’s leaders and spokespeople travel around the world to work with Greenpeace, the fringe Natural Law Party (NLP), and other anti-food-technology organizations on activist campaigns targeting “corporate agriculture.”

    A group with a name similar to ACGA, the American Corn Growers Foundation, is also attached to the Association. While ACGA denies an official connection to the Foundation, the two groups share board members and a mailing address, and work together on a variety of projects. Money flows back and forth between the two groups as well.

    ACGA and the Foundation are tied to most of the usual anti-capitalist suspects in the anti-genetic improvement movement (including the Campaign to Label GE Foods, the Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Environmental Media Services, Food First, Jeremy Rifkin’s Foundation on Economic Trends, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Maharishi University of Management, the Natural Law Party, the Organic Farming Research Organization, the Pesticide Action Network, the Sierra Club, and Union of Concerned Scientists) through the Bolinas Group, an informal consortium of environmental and anti-biotech organizations that helps fund ACGA.

    But unlike Greenpeace and some of the other large Bolinas Group players in the anti-biotech movement, ACGA and the Foundation have carved out a unique niche: They take on genetic improvement from an economic perspective.

    Their game plan is simple. First they convince as many farmers as possible that growing biotech corn will cut off a huge sector of the international market and that organic corn can be sold at a premium price. Then ACGA’s leaders catch a flight to Europe to join Greenpeace, the NLP, and other activists in trying to convince farmers and governments there that biotech has failed in the U.S. and should be rejected on the Continent.

    The groups do this through farmer “education.” Through the “Farmer Choice-Customer First” project, paid for by environmental and anti-biotech groups, ACGA and the Foundation teach farmers how non-biotech corn can be marketed.

    In December 2001, they conducted a survey as part of the project that claimed one-half of U.S. grain elevators required GMO and non-GMO grains be separated. This “representative” survey consisted entirely of ACGA members, and was obviously biased — kind of like asking members of a politician’s family who they plan to vote for.

    Both ACGA and the Foundation stay in the news by issuing press releases and booking interviews whenever any story even remotely related to biotech breaks. Many of these releases appear on, a “news” site created by “organizations [that] have expressed disdain for genetically modified crops, and many have worked actively to implement legislation to ban or regulate the technologies,” as The Bangor Daily News reported in May 2000.

    Along with ACGA, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, the Organic Farmers Marketing Association, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace USA, Food First, Environmental Media Services, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, and the organic marketer-funded Center for Food Safety were among’s charter sponsors.

    ACGA and the Foundation have blamed genetic improvement technology for everything from public health problems to trade imbalances. In December 2001, ACGA praised a report on Bt corn by Charles Benbrook published by the activist Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Genetically Engineered Food Alert. ACGA said Benbrook had shown biotech to be a “triple negative for farmers — lost corn exports, lower corn prices and less profit from Bt corn.”

    But the NCGA, which represents mainstream farmers, blasted the Benbrook report — and ACGA. Said NCGA executive vice president and CEO Rick Tolman: “The IATP report immediately lacks credibility because they use as their farmer organization spokesperson a representative of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA). ACGA has much stronger ties to and support from the environmental extremists than they do from actual corn producers in the U.S. They are not credible representatives for U.S. corn growers.”

    And what if the media and the public mistake ACGA’s position for that of the far more reputable and representative NCGA? Well, these things happen.

  • Mike Iba

    Director, Network for Safe and Secure Food & Environment (Japan); Board Member, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Policy Board member, Organic Consumers Association

  • Ronnie Cummins

    Executive director, Organic Consumers Association; former director, Jeremy Rifkin’s Beyond Beef Campaign & Pure Food Campaign; author of books on Central American culture; co-author, Genetically-Engineered Foods: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers

  • Ellen Hickey

    Director of Research & Communications and Genetic Engineering Program Coordinator, Pesticide Action Network North America; Policy Board member, Organic Consumers Association; Editor, Global Pesticide Campaigner

  • Michael Greger

    Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture, Humane Society of the United States; BSE issue coordinator, Organic Consumers Association; former Chief Medical Investigator, Farm Sanctuary; proprietor, “Vegan MD” website

  • John Stauber

    Co-founder, Center for Media & Democracy; policy board, Organic Consumers Association; advisory board, Center for Food Safety; former field officer, Foundation on Economic Trends; co-author, Mad Cow USA, and Toxic Sludge is Good for You

  • Center for Food Safety

    The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is a project of the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA). CFS is headed by Andrew Kimbrell, who was mentored by Jeremy Rifkin at the Foundation on Economic Trends. Next to the Unabomber, Rifkin is perhaps America’s most notable anti-technologist. CFS’s current focus is large-scale agriculture — specifically, food technology. It is a major partner in the “Keep Nature Natural” campaign, which receives funding from the organic food industry. CFS often participates in food scare projects managed by Fenton Communications, a Washington, D.C. public relations firm often used by anti-industry activists.

    CFS has four stated goals, which promote organic agriculture by restricting traditional farming methods: “Ensuring the testing, labeling and regulation of genetically engineered (GE) foods; Preserving strict national organic food standards; Preventing potential animal and human health crises caused by food borne illness — including ‘mad cow’ disease; Educating the public on the hazards of industrial agriculture.” In 2004, CFS was the single largest financial contributor to a campaign to ban biotech crops in Mendocino County, CA. The ban (known as “Measure H”) passed, and is the only law of its kind in the country.

    CFS sponsors the “Keep Nature Natural” campaign, a national initiative to flood the Food and Drug Administration with comments asking for stricter regulation of GE foods. Other sponsors of this project include Chefs Collaborative, Friends of the Earth, the Organic Consumers Association, and organic marketers Whole Foods Market and Eden Foods. At the heart of the campaign is a legal petition filed by CFS demanding mandatory warning labeling for genetically improved foods. Its ultimate goal was summed up by Craig Winters (who runs The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods) when he acknowledged that “labeling has nearly the same effect as a ban.”

    CFS is also a member of the Fenton Communications–run “GE Food Alert” coalition, the organization responsible for the fall 2000 StarLink biotech corn scare. Other members include National Environmental Trust, Friends of the Earth, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Organic Consumers Association, and the Pesticide Action Network. CFS co-sponsors (along with Greenpeace) the anti-food-technology web site

    CFS’s relationship with its parent group (ICTA) is a curious one. Although CFS has its own tax ID number and files its own IRS returns, ICTA continues to solicit, receive, and spend grant monies on behalf of its smaller “project.” For this reason, our financial profile shows financial support and budget numbers for the two entities combined.

  • Foundation on Economic Trends

    The Foundation on Economic Trends (FOET) is a platform for the neo-Luddite intellectual guru Jeremy Rifkin. Lacking scientific or technical background, Rifkin is a peddler of half-truths, suppositions, scare stories, and outright superstition. His real expertise is in organizing and inspiring uninformed activists, who take his science fiction as the gospel truth.

    While most people think about food in terms of nutrition and taste, Rifkin proclaims that “eating is the ultimate political act” — and aims to impose his politics on the dinner plate. His primary targets are modern farming techniques, meat production and consumption, and all forms of genetic technology. Rifkin warns that biotechnology threatens “a form of annihilation every bit as deadly as nuclear holocaust” and calls beef a “new form of human evil.”

    Unfortunately, Rifkin’s influence stretches far beyond the environmental and animal-rights activists who happily follow wherever he leads. He is a charmer, and a gifted rhetorician. Rifkin claims, accurately, to be an “advisor to heads of state and government officials around the world.” He testifies before Congress, generates significant press coverage for himself and his campaigns, and has been named by National Journal magazine as one of the 150 Americans with the greatest influence over federal government policy.

    Attacking Genetically Enhanced Crops

    National Journal included Rifkin’s name alongside real experts because he “skillfully manipulated legal and bureaucratic procedures to slow the pace of biotechnology.” Nobel Prize-winning scientist David Baltimore echoed this point in the October 1983 issue of MIT Technology Review:

    I think Rifkin is trying to stop everything that’s going on in biotechnology. That’s why he’s focusing on trivial considerations instead of legitimate serious issues … And I don’t see why the whole world has to frame the debate around his particular myopic views.

    The conclusions of Baltimore and the National Journal are corroborated by a $150,000 grant that FOET received from the John Merck Fund in 1999. The Fund’s tax documents state that the grant went “to file two federal lawsuits aimed at slowing the current rapid transition to genetically engineered agriculture in the United States.” It just so happens that in 1999 Rifkin organized a coalition of groups, including Greenpeace, to bring Monsanto to court for make-believe violations of anti-trust law.

    Of course, Rifkin couldn’t care less if a biotechnology company somehow kept prices artificially high. He wants to ban genetically enhanced crops entirely. So this lawsuit, like so much of his anti-biotech activity, was simply legal monkey-wrenching intended to keep biotech firms busy fending off nuisance lawsuits. The 1999 lawsuit with Greenpeace was nothing new for Rifkin:

    • In 1983, FOET sued to prevent a field test of Frostban, a harmless form of bacteria genetically altered to protect plants from freezing temperatures. Rifkin managed to delay the field test for three years, at which point Frostban was finally demonstrated to be safe, as expected.
    • In 1986, simply by threatening opposition to a soil bacteria genetically designed to protect corn from worms, Rifkin got a crucial test cancelled. The EPA believed the “microbial pesticide was harmless,” according to The New York Times, but the test was prevented because of fears that “Jeremy Rifkin would sue.”
    • In 1994, Rifkin organized protestors to dump milk in the streets. The unfounded fear this time? Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), an FDA-approved, lab-produced version of a naturally occurring cow hormone. Cows with more BGH produce more milk, so scientists have learned to supplement the animals’ natural supply. But Rifkin raised a red flag: “Whole communities will be devastated,” he intoned. But today, more than half of all dairy farms with 500 or more cows use rBGH — with no ill effects among humans or animals.
    • Rifkin has used America’s current focus on possible bioterrorism attacks to promote his own agenda. In a Baltimore Sun op-ed, he wrote that genetic improvement technology “being used commercially in the fields of agriculture, animal husbandry and medicine today is potentially convertible to the development of a wide range of pathogens that can attack plant, animal and human populations.”
    • Rifkin’s rhetorical scare tactics have reached well beyond U.S. borders. FOET brags that it helped “facilitate a European Union moratorium on the commercial introduction of genetically modified food crops in Europe.”

    Dr. Henry I. Miller, the former chief biotechnology policy coordinator for the Food and Drug Administration, explained the practical effects of Rifkin’s anti-technology activism in the April 22, 1997 issue of the Journal of Commerce:

    Rifkin … wants to banish biotech foods and pharmaceuticals and keep future products from being developed and tested. He has tried to interfere with the research, development and marketing of products that feed the planet and that prevent and cure fatal diseases. He has deluged government regulators with nuisance petitions demanding that biotech products be banned. During my years as director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Biotechnology, I regularly coordinated the agency’s response to his petitions. Along with other federal agencies, the FDA expended tens of thousands of man-hours responding to Mr. Rifkin. The time could have been spent prosecuting quacks or evaluating new drugs for approval.

    Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute is even more blunt. He writes in the Washington Times that:

    Mr. Rifkin is an eco-parasite, feeding on the fears of a nation that unfortunately has little understanding of food safety issues. Americans should feel free to choose their diets on the basis of nutrition and preference, not Mr. Rifkin’s hysterical headline-hunting.

    The Spider at the Center of the Web

    Jeremy Rifkin is the chief organizer of the anti-biotech movement. The New York Times’ Keith Schneider, who covered Rifkin for 15 years, says: “He is one of the greatest grassroots activists of his generation. Period.”

    A consummate coalition builder, as early as 1983 Rifkin had organized an alliance of environmental groups to fight (in court and elsewhere) the testing of agricultural genetic technology. In 1986, he organized select farmers and animal-rights groups to fight against a hormone supplement now commonly and safely used in dairy cows. By 1987, Rifkin’s reputation had solidified, and Science Magazine wrote:

    Predictably, social activist Jeremy Rifkin, head of the Foundation on Economic Trends, has played a central role in forming the loose coalition of animal patent opponents. So far, it consists of 14 animal welfare organizations, 13 farm groups, 5 religious denominations, and assorted other activists.

    In 1995, Rifkin organized more than 200 groups in 40 countries to fight one particular genetic patent. That same year he brought together about 180 religious leaders from 80 denominations to issue a “Joint Appeal Against Human and Animal Patenting.” Rifkin was able to boast that it was “the broadest coalition of religious leaders in US history,” largely because the language of his “Appeal” was relatively moderate. But Rifkin turned the resulting media attention into coverage for his more radical “Coalition Against Life Patents and Biopiracy,” which called for churches and pension funds to divest from corporations involved in genetic engineering.

    In 2002, Rifkin organized a coalition of (according to FOET) more than 325 civil society organizations in over 50 countries to fight for an international “Treaty to Share the Genetic Commons,” which would outlaw all patents on gene strands.

    All these coalitions, appeals, and treaty proposals serve Rifkin’s goal of hampering the progress of biotechnology. Rifkin seeks to throw up as many barriers as possible to scientific development and production, including a proposed global tax on biotech drugs. Whatever flowery language Rifkin may employ, and whichever groups he may convince to join his coalition du jour, the real tangible goal of his activism is to halt technological progress in its tracks.

    Activist Boot Camp

    FOET has served as a training ground for Jeremy Rifkin’s many intellectual disciples, some of whom have gone on to run their own Luddite organizations.

    • Ronnie Cummins directed, among other projects, FOET’s “Pure Food Campaign,” which recruited “more than 1,500 of the nation’s leading chefs” to protest genetically improved crops and organized “Global Days of Action” against biotechnology. This campaign was later spun off as the Organic Consumers Association, with Cummins as its national director.
    • Andrew Kimbrell, a former FOET policy director, now heads the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) and its adjunct organization, the lawyer-run Center for Food Safety (CFS), both of which turn contributions from organic and “natural” food companies into campaigns against biotech foods and modern farming techniques.
    • Joseph Mendelson was once a staff attorney at FOET. He went on to become a project director at Friends of the Earth, another environmental group opposed to modern farming. Mendelson is now Andrew Kimbrell’s partner and legal director, drafting lawsuits for both ICTA and CFS.
    • John Stauber, co-author of the over-the-top panicky Mad Cow USA and founder of the anti-capitalist Center for Media and Democracy, worked for FOET from 1988 to 1993.
    • Howard Lyman was executive director of Jeremy Rifkin’s “Beyond Beef Campaign” ( will give you a discount if you buy Rifkin’s Beyond Beef along with Lyman’s Mad Cowboy) before achieving genuine infamy when he claimed on the “Oprah” TV show that mad cow disease would make AIDS “look like the common cold.”

    His Beef with Beef

    In 1992, Jeremy Rifkin published Beyond Beef, an unrestrained attack on the consumption and production of red meat. Rifkin described beef as a “malevolent force in the world,” and falsely blamed it for everything from hunger to global warming to spousal abuse. Redefining hyperbole, Rifkin even claimed that “a person is committing an evil act by growing feed for cattle or consuming a hamburger.”

    A Los Angeles Times reviewer labeled Beyond Beef “atrocious,” calling it “one of those maddening books in which dozens of major issues keep getting whizzed in a mental food processor along with nonstop histrionics and virtuoso displays of ignorance in 20 disciplines.” The review continued:

    Not one sentence of this very noisy and self-righteous tract suggests that the author has ever seen a cow or steer or talked to a farmer … Getting your information from books is all very well if you know how to use them. Rifkin, however, is a truly awful researcher … The result is a scholarly disaster. Far out of his depth in agronomy, religion, anthropology, medicine and the history of ideas … The author’s use of numbers is as loopy as his way with other evidence. He is one of those polemicists who ransack all manner of statistics in order to come up with shockers.

    Even some “alternative” media outlets had a hard time swallowing Beyond Beef. A “wellness” publication called East West Natural Health declared: “This new book is simply not credible.” And Joan Gussow, a natural Rifkin ally who hopes to restrict access to only “locally grown” foods, called Beyond Beef a “really bad book.” She suggested that “it was badly written. To say that the prairies are going to be restored to the buffalo and flowers will bloom again and all this is like magic is not going to happen.”

    The headline of one review read “Rifkin doesn’t appear interested in being consistent or coherent.” And the Houston Chronicle’s reviewer saw through Rifkin’s polemic:

    Rifkin’s beef is not really with cattle at all but with capitalism. He fully admits he has chosen beef cattle for his attack because they are the historic symbol of wealth and portable capital. In the America Rifkin envisions, beef cattle and capitalism are banished, the buffalo roam, the deer and the antelope play and Americans eat peas and corn bread in poverty but in solidarity with their Third World brothers.

    Beyond Beef‘s hostile reception had much to do with the fact that many of Rifkin’s alarmist statements about the “damage” done to the modern world by beef production are demonstrably false. The American Council on Science and Health debunked his central claims shortly after Beyond Beef was released, writing:

    • Reducing beef production would lead to a decrease in the demand for feed grain, but it does not necessarily follow that the grain would become available to the world’s hungry people … Grain typically constitutes only 15 to 20 percent of the total feed consumed by beef cattle in the U.S. The remainder consists of grasses and other cellulose-rich materials that humans and non-ruminant animals cannot digest. The raising of ruminant animals is the only way to transform these plant materials into food for human consumption.
    • There is little relationship between fast-food hamburger consumption in the U.S. and the destruction of rainforests in Central and South America. Only about 0.6 percent of the beef consumed in the U.S. comes from Latin American rainforest areas, and much of that is imported as cooked, canned products rather than as ground beef.
    • Cattle can be raised entirely on grass, with no grain at all. This is the custom in many developing areas. In the U.S., however, it makes good economic sense to “finish” cattle on grain because it is readily available at a reasonable price. Despite Beyond Beef’s frequent references to “precious grain,” there is a surplus rather than a shortage of grain in the U.S. Many American farmers who could not otherwise make a profit by growing grain are able to stay in business because they can sell their crops to livestock producers.

    Rifkin conveniently ignores the fact that the world grows far more grain than it can consume, and predicts “starvation, war, and disease … more frightening and sinister than anything that has come before” arising from lack of food. And his preoccupation with supposed grain shortages in Beyond Beef are all the more baffling when one considers his inflexible opposition to the very technology that promises vastly improved crop yields.

    Son of Beyond Beef

    Within a year of Beyond Beef‘s release, Jeremy Rifkin and Howard Lyman launched the “Beyond Beef Campaign,” an activist crusade aimed at cutting worldwide beef consumption in half (and then “beyond”). One campaign tactic was called “Adopt-A-McDonald’s,” for which protestors would continuously pester specific restaurants. Another involved relentlessly suing the Department of Agriculture. Rifkin wanted the agency to mandate such scary health warnings on beef that consumers would be permanently frightened out of eating it.

    Laying the groundwork for later activists like Yale University’s Kelly Brownell, Rifkin’s Beyond Beef Campaign rhetoric included the frequent accusation that beef represents a public health danger similar to tobacco. “It has taken twenty years to make it clear that this pack of cigarettes is deadly,” he declared during one speech. “I am here to tell you today that this Big Mac I hold in my other hand is just as deadly over the long term.”

    A report issued by the Beyond Beef Campaign was equally laughable. Among its many false claims one can find this quote from a man named Neal Barnard:

    The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of “real food for real people,” you’d better live real close to a real good hospital.

    Barnard is listed in the Beyond Beef Campaign literature as President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). What Rifkin didn’t tell you is that PCRM is a quasi-medical front group for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PETA has funneled over $800,000 to Barnard’s group to insert animal-rights messages into the medical mainstream.

    It’s not surprising that Jeremy Rifkin would align himself with animal-rights activists. In a 2002 op-ed, he argued that humanity is “long overdue for a global discussion of how best to promote a diversified, high-protein, vegetarian diet for the human race.” And in his foreword to a collection of essays titled A Primer on Animal Rights, Rifkin spoke of “our quest to extend the golden rule to our fellow travelers, the many animals who share this moment on earth with us.”

    More Analysis from Rifkin Detractors

    From a Los Angeles Times editorial (April 17, 1986):

    Who is this Rifkin, and what are his credentials? He has a long history of opposing things, but as to credentials, he has none. Perhaps you remember Rifkin as the author of “Entropy” (Viking: 1980), which a Los Angeles Times reviewer described as “flagrant flimflam” and “logical garbage.” Or perhaps you remember him as the author of “Algeny” (Viking: 1983) described in our Book Review as “a shameless potpourri of misinformation and faulty logic.”

    Somehow this man has emerged as the single most influential person in the country on genetic engineering. He has finally found an issue that he can ride. Unfortunately for the rest of us, it’s the wrong one. Knowledgeable scientists (Rifkin is neither) were right to worry about the potential harm of genetic engineering more than a decade ago. The government was right to insist that precautions be taken. Careful tests were done and redone. Rifkin’s scenario of disaster from an unleashed new organism is groundless.

    From TIME magazine (December 4, 1989):

    Rifkin’s performance, which he delivers on average 90 times a year, is a mixture of Jimmy Swaggart, Phil Donahue and Werner Erhard. Twenty years of teaching, preaching and raising consciences — some would call it rabble-rousing — have refined this show to the point that it has a slick, thoroughly professional sheen …

    The problem is that Rifkin frequently presents his case in such a shrill and occasionally unscrupulous manner that in the debates he hopes to encourage, fear and anger frequently replace information and reasoned judgment …

    Indeed, Rifkin’s success at blocking research projects led one biotech newsletter to label him “the Abominable No Man.” Says W. French Anderson, a gene-therapy researcher at the National Institutes of Health (and a Rifkin target): “Jeremy is a professional activist, and he says and does whatever he needs to do to draw attention to his position … Jeremy is constantly threatening catastrophe.” But there is good reason to question the fairness of Rifkin’s angriest assaults on scientists as mad magicians and unethical disciples of Dr. Strangelove. When Rifkin is most successful, he may slow basic research, delay a medical advance, perhaps even damage the economy.

    From a Washington Post book review of Rifkin’s The Biotech Century (May 11, 1998):

    The abysmal track record of pessimistic pundits has never impaired their popularity — which explains Jeremy Rifkin’s lucrative career as a gene-splicing alarmist, even though none of his horror scenarios has come close to reality, while research continues safely under severe restraints and promises huge benefits ranging from cancer cures to new crops that will fight Third World hunger …

    “The Biotech Century” purports to be an objective guide, but this is a deliberate deception. Rifkin makes no attempt at a fair or balanced assessment, and does not reveal to the reader his long record of anti-science activism. His “survey” of the next century is an endless catalogue of horrors, real or imagined, and he offers no suggestions for solutions.

    From The Washington Post (January 17, 1988):

    Rifkin’s arguments have been called dangerously simple-minded and sometimes downright specious. He has been accused, in effect, of demagoguery, of targeting the emotions at the expense of the mind. His intellectual honesty has been challenged. David Baltimore, a Nobel laureate molecular biologist, has refused to debate Rifkin, saying flatly, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Environmental activist Barry Commoner has accused him of “hokum.” … Jeremy [Rifkin] himself is engaging. But he is also an alarmist and an absolutist, with little or no trust in humans to think for themselves. One shudders for a world in which Rifkin is king.

    From an Edmonton Journal review of Rifkin’s The Hydrogen Economy (October 27, 2002):

    Taking specific laws and concepts from physics and applying them to sociology is always a bad idea, but Rifkin trundles on, misfiring on all pistons … Rifkin’s history is worse. In just one and one-third pages he provides a potted survey of civilization from 10,000 years ago to the industrial age, filled with statements such as “Women invented pottery.” A book I read while still in bibs entitled A Child’s History of the World demonstrated more intellectual rigour …

    From the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould’s review of Rifkin’s Algeny in Discover magazine (January 1985):

    I regard Algeny as a cleverly constructed tract of anti-intellectual propaganda masquerading as scholarship. Among books promoted as serious intellectual statements by important thinkers, I don’t think I have ever read a shoddier work …

    Rifkin’s assertions bear no relationship to what I have observed and practiced for 25 years … How can Rifkin construct a world so different from the one I inhabit and know so well? Either I am blind or he is wrong — and I think I can show, by analyzing his slipshod scholarship and basic misunderstanding of science, that his world is an invention constructed to validate his own private hopes … Rifkin shows no understanding of the norms and procedures of science: he displays little comprehension of what science is and how scientists work …

    Rifkin does not respect the procedures of fair argument. He uses every debater’s trick in the book to mischaracterize and trivialize his opposition, and to place his own dubious claims in a rosy light …

  • Greenpeace

    Greenpeace is the largest environmental organization in the world, with an international membership of over 3 million and offices in over 40 countries. Forbes magazine once described it as “a skillfully managed business” with full command of “the tools of direct mail and image manipulation — and tactics that would bring instant condemnation if practiced by a for-profit corporation.” But Greenpeace has escaped public censure by hiding behind the mask of its “non-profit” status and its U.S. tax exemption. In other countries, however, Greenpeace has not been as lucky: Both Canada and New Zealand have revoked the organization’s non-profit status, noting that the group’s overly politicized agenda no longer has any “public benefit.”

    Greenpeace was originally the brainchild of the radical “Don’t Make a Wave Committee,” a group of American draft-dodgers who fled to Vancouver in 1969 and, supported by money from anti-war Quaker organizations, got into the business of forcibly blocking American nuclear tests. Over the years the group has loudly made its feelings known on a variety of issues (nuclear testing, whaling, and global warming, for instance), and its Amsterdam-based activist moguls pull the strings on what is estimated to be a $360 million global empire.

    In the United States, however, Greenpeace is a relatively modest activist group, spending about $10 million per year. And the lion’s share of that budget in recent years has gone to outrageous attempts to smear agricultural biotech products, consumer electronics, and the logging and fishing industries.

    • Greenpeace campaigns against all forms of energy production except for wind and solar. Unfortunately, a whopping 98 percent of the world’s energy supply comes from sources other than wind and solar, This is not likely to change anytime soon due to the cost, both in dollars and in raw materials, required to produce wind turbines and photovoltaic arrays.

    • Greenpeace claims to be dedicated to saving the whales. They are happy to exploit the emotional impact of the slaughter of these noble creatures to raise funds and recruit members, but less interested in acting to end the practice of whaling worldwide. In principle, Greenpeace is not even opposed to whaling.

    • Greenpeace is against the use of numerous chemical substances including, but not limited to, elemental chlorine, one of the building blocks of life on our planet. Considering that chlorine is responsible for providing much of the world with clean drinking water, and the Earth’s population with some 85 percent of all pharmaceuticals and vitamins, this hard-line stance is must be considered both uninformed and inhumane.

    • Greenpeace is unwavering in its conviction that the “unforeseen” health and environmental consequences of planting genetically engineered crops that can grow in hostile environments will forever outweigh any potential humanitarian benefits. While they mount protests aimed at ripping these mutant “Frankenfoods” from the soil and the supermarket shelves, impoverished populations around the globe suffer from the preventable pandemic of malnutrition.

    • Greenpeace remains bent on destroying aquaculture industry while they continue to raise alarm about the status of wild fish stocks. Using the apocalyptic image of oceans picked clean of all aquatic organisms, Greenpeace keeps raking in the donations while battling against an industry that is already taking great pains to ensure its sustainability.

    Instead of working hand-in-hand with business owners to forge a path towards a sustainable future like other less myopic environmental organizations, Greenpeace’s dogmatic adherence to the precautionary principle causes them to overlook the fatal flaws inherent in their own radical policies.

    Current Campaigns

    Today, Greenpeace is runninging active campaigns against both their old foes — the nuclear, logging, and whaling industries — and several newer, even more preposterous targets including the fishing industry, GE agriculture, and companies producing “toxic” consumer electronics.

    Fish Tales

    Most recently, Greenpeace USA has raised a false alarm regarding the growth of the biotech fisheries industry. A handful of innovative businesses have learned how to genetically improve certain salmon species to make them grow faster, and Greenpeace will have none of it. The group is doing all it can to frighten consumers of this new product, and is working behind the scenes to have it banned before it can even reach the marketplace.

    To this day, Greenpeace remains bent on destroying aquaculture industry even as they continue to raise alarm about the status of wild fish stocks. Farmed fish, such as salmon, actually take pressure off wild stocks, while providing consumers with an affordable source of heart-healthy, omega-3-rich protein. But Greenpeace wants to make farmed salmon the enemy of wild salmon. To this end, the group concocted an alarmist campaign focusing on the threat of sea lice. Unfortunately for Greenpeace, a direct causal link between sea lice and declining wild salmon populations has yet to be proven, and in the meantime the aquaculture industry is hard at work finding new, better, and even more sustainable methods to ensure that their product can continue to help both human and wild fish populations.

    But along with targeting aquaculture, Greenpeace wants to make it all but impossible to harvest wild populations of any fish species regardless of sustainability. In 2008, Greenpeace released its seafood sustainability “report” designed to pressure American supermarkets into removing almost half of all currently available seafood. On page one of the alarmist diatribe, Greenpeace claims that world’s commercial fisheries could collapse within the next 40 years and that “90 percent of stocks of large predatory fish have already been lost.” Unfortunately for the alarmists at Greenpeace, these numbers are based on a long-since debunked study that has been described by a number of independent researchers (and even the original author of the study!) as “flawed and full of errors.”

    In response to this report, The National Fisheries Institute decided to offer their own, slightly more in-depth look at some of the fish that made Greenpeace’s “Red List”:

    • Hoki

      Greenpeace says hoki is one of the highest priority species for removal from stores. What they don’t’ say is that the New Zealand government recently reduced the catch levels for hoki, based on scientific estimates of its status. This action is the kind of scientifically based decision-making that good fishery managers use — when stocks go up, more fishing can be allowed and when stocks go down, good government managers reduce the fishing. Marine Stewardship Council principles recognize these fluctuations in stock and reward fisheries that have such good management systems in place. Greenpeace’s failure to recognize this important aspect of sustainable management exposes a real weakness in their own sustainability efforts.

    • Alaska Pollock

      Apparently Greenpeace is truly in the dark about this fishery. Alaska Pollock is considered by many NGOs, government fisheries experts, and industry insiders to be a model of fisheries management and meets all of the requirements of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries developed by the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The Alaska Pollock stock is plentiful and the fishery is sustainably managed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) puts it this way, “Alaska pollock population levels are high, and no overfishing is occurring.” It’s pretty straightforward.

    • Tropical Shrimp

      Shrimp is America’s favorite seafood. About 92% of the shrimp consumed by Americans is imported, and of that about 86% is farmed. About one third (32% and growing) of the imported, farmed shrimp comes from processing plants that are certified by the Aquaculture Certification Council (ACC) for implementation of their Best Aquaculture Practices. The ACC is currently concentrating on efforts to increase the number of farms participating in the certification program.

    Because retailers have no interest in seeing fish that make them a profit suddenly become unavailable, many grocery chains have recently changed their stance on carrying unsustainably sourced seafood. Of course, Greenpeace is more than willing to take credit for this development, despite the fact that several supermarkets have specifically noted that these decisions were made as a result of advice given not by Greenpeace, but by the New England Aquarium and other, less fanatical organizations.

    Indeed, the news regarding sustainable fishing practices is much less dire than Greenpeace would have you believe. While Greenpeace spends its time digging up old, debunked studies to compile into alarmist reports designed to elicit an “emotional response” about the grim state of our fisheries, independent government scientists have gone about their work assessing the actual sustainability of American fish stocks. And, wouldn’t you know it, the headline for NOAA’s 2008 Status of U.S. Fisheries Report is “Seven Stocks Removed from Overfishing List, None Added.” Good news, right? Compare that to the subhead for Greenpeace’s “Carting Away the Oceans” report: “Grocery Stores are Emptying the Seas.”

    Incidentally, according to the NOAA report, among those fish stocks not listed as subject to overfishing are the Central Western Pacific yellowfin tuna, Atlantic bigeye tuna, and both the north and south stocks of monkfish — all species featured on Greenpeace’s Red List. For the most up-to-date statistics on the real status of which species of fish are subject to overfishing, click here.

    Talking Tuna

    Not content to limit their propaganda to the fishing business as a whole, Greenpeace has recently singled out the tuna industry for an even more targeted and intensive attack. In keeping with its usual modus operandi, Greenpeace launched a national campaign that vilifies tuna companies through grossly hyperbolic videos, accompanied by urgent fundraising letters.

    Ignoring the fact that canned tuna is one of the best and least expensive sources of such essential nutrients as protein, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids, Greenpeace appears determined to coerce retailers into clearing their shelves of this nutritious food.

    "Rather than working on real sustainability initiatives, Greenpeace continues to try to bully U.S. tuna canners," said Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute, an industry-backed non-profit group. "Its efforts consist of childish stunts as opposed to real science and meaningful collaboration. Greenpeace marginalizes itself in the conversation about tuna sustainability by choosing to be a side show."

    While Greenpeace strives to shock and awe the public into donating to their misguided crusade, other high-powered conservation groups, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), have decided to abandon stunts in favor of working hand-in-hand with the tuna companies through the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). Founded in 2008 by tuna industry leaders, marine scientists, and the WWF, the ISSSF brings together companies, governments, scientists and conservation activists to identify best practices and ecologically sustainable solutions to ensure the long term health of all tuna stocks, while protecting oceans and minimizing the impact of fishing on other marine animals.

    Greenpeace argues that the siren song of the almighty dollar is the only thing driving the tuna industry’s decisions regarding its fishing practices. But the truth is that if tuna disappear from the oceans, the tuna industry would cease to exist. If tuna companies are as greedy as Greenpeace would have us believe, it’s hard to imagine they would be gunning for a future that robbed them of the single factor ensuring their continued economic success.

    Thankfully, like many of the other fish species Greenpeace has red-listed, evidence shows that the species used in canned tuna are nearly as plentiful as they were 60 years ago. Ray Hilborn, professor of aquatic and fishery sciences at the University of Washington and former member of the President’s Commission on Ocean Policy, notes that “On average, the tuna and billfish of the world are fished at levels that will produce maximum sustainable yield and are at the abundance that will produce maximum sustainable yield. The U.S. fisheries are doing extremely well.”

    And while Greenpeace continues to raise money by promoting an apocalyptic vision of a world with oceans devoid of all living things, Hilborn says that this message of fear is far from the truth.

    The oceans are not picked clean at all. There are lots of fish in the ocean, but not as many as there would be if we did not rely on the oceans for food. If you want to feed the world from capture fisheries you have to accept that the oceans will be different. … But if you compare wild capture fishing to producing food in other ways, fishing looks pretty good. In fact, it looks much better. No matter how you measure environmental impact: carbon footprints, amount of water used, (you can catch fish in the ocean without fresh water!), antibiotics, biodiversity loss fishing has a lower environmental footprint than producing animal protein on the land. In order to produce the crops to feed chicken, pigs or cows you rip out native ecosystems and replace them with exotic species. Fishing maintains ecosystems that are largely natural — different but much less different than agricultural systems.

    If Greenpeace succeeds in getting affordable, nutritious tuna removed from all supermarket shelves, consumers will be forced to turn to other inexpensive sources of protein and fat, namely beef, chicken, and pork. Surely Greenpeace knows the environmental costs involved in raising more livestock — lost habitat, increased water consumption, and increased use of pesticides, fertilizer, and antibiotics — and yet they seem to prefer this option to a future of sustainable fishing.

    Genetic Engineering: Rise of the “FrankenFoods”

    Another Greenpeace campaign deeply rooted in pseudo-science is the anti-GE (Genetically Engineered Food) campaign. It was Greenpeace campaign director Charles Margulis who is credited with coining the term “FrankenFood.” It was Greenpeace activists who conspired with other tax-exempt groups (like Friends of the Earth and the Organic Consumers Association) to “expose” the supposed dangers of StarLink corn. Among Greenpeace’s recent innovations has been the creation of a “citizen’s labeling brigade” — basically a group of hooligans who take the law into their own hands by forcibly adding home-made, propaganda-laden “warning labels” (some complete with skull-and-crossbones artwork) to consumer food products on grocery store shelves. And it was Greenpeace that intentionally inflated the urban legend that biotech corn would place the monarch butterfly population in harm’s way. When your local news carries footage of protesters railing against genetically improved foods, look hard for the slogan-shouting troublemakers wearing monarch butterfly costumes. That’s Greenpeace’s handiwork.

    With each cry of “wolf,” Greenpeace seems to up the ante while ignoring the real-world consequences of its rhetoric. The group 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). And completely forgotten by the “Frankenfood” protesters is the tremendous potential for biotech foods to solve many of the Third World’s famine-related problems. Tanzania’s Dr. Michael Mbwille (of the non-profit Food Security Network) said it best. “Greenpeace,” he wrote, “prints and circulates these lies faster than the Code Red virus infected the world’s computers. If we were to apply Greenpeace’s scientifically illiterate standards [for soybeans] universally, there would be nothing left on our tables.”

    In Britain, France, and elsewhere, Greenpeace vandals have destroyed bio-engineered crops, wiping out millions of dollars in research to develop food plants that require fewer pesticides, are more nutritious, reduce dangerous mold toxins, withstand floods and droughts, and increase crop yields. The people who would benefit most from this research are the poorest, most malnourished on Earth. They could improve their lives, simply by planting different, better corn, cotton, or soybean seeds.

    The best example of the harm caused by Greenpeace’s continued opposition to GE crops is the story of the Golden Rice Project. As opposed to soy or corn, rice is not a big money commodity crop — most of the world’s rice crops are eaten where they’re grown, and over 2 billion people worldwide depend on rice as their primary staple. But because it contains very few vitamins or minerals, rice alone cannot provide sufficient nutritional benefits to prevent the devastating effects of malnutrition, specifically vitamin A deficiency. The World Health Organization estimates that, around the world, 190 million children under the age of five may have a vitamin A deficiency. Of those, some 250,000 to 500,000 suffer blindness, and an equal number go on to meet an untimely end in miserable conditions in urban slums. By recent estimates, providing children and families easy access to vitamin A could save 600,000 lives a year in Africa, Asia, and other developing countries.

    Golden Rice, a genetically engineered strain of rice that produces beta-carotene, which the human body processes into Vitamin A, was developed by German academics Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer with strictly humanitarian purposes in mind. This new, nutritionally fortified grain was created in 1988 could have been on market as early as 1999 or 2000 had Greenpeace not decided to intervene.

    Citing the dangers of “unforeseen” health or environmental consequences, Greenpeace vowed to rip the golden grain out of the ground if and whenever it was planted. Surely the organization was aware of the WHO statistics for vitamin A deficiency, yet they still chose to oppose Golden Rice. To Greenpeace, the unknown risks associated with planting this GE crop were far more serious than the known consequences — the continued death and suffering of children around the world. Because of this, Golden Rice’s creator, Ingo Potrykus actually went so far as to accuse Greenpeace of crimes against humanity.


    The “Devel’s Element”

    Greenpeace’s unwarranted mistrust of chemicals is nearly as old as the group itself. After mounting two largely successful campaigns against nuclear proliferation and whaling, Greenpeace turned its attention to what it saw as the next most clear and present danger: the chemical element chlorine.

    Despite the fact that chlorine is responsible for providing much of the world with clean drinking water, and the earth’s population with some 85 percent of all pharmaceuticals and vitamins, Greenpeace maintains its fundamentalist position against the element. According to Greenpeace’s Joe Thornton:

    “There are no uses of chlorine which we regard as safe.”

    But what began as a campaign against 2,4,5-T (Agent Orange) and dioxins soon expanded to include all forms of this “devil’s element.” Though many forms of chlorine are undoubtedly bad for both humans and the environment, the wholesale rejection of “the use, export, and import of all organochlorines, elemental chlorine, and chlorinated oxidizing agents,” represented a major turning point for the organization.

    Considering all chlorine gives us in terms of public heath and medicine (using chlorine to purify drinking water was one of the single biggest advances in the history of public health), this sort of hard-line stance must be considered both anti-science and anti-human.

    This disdain for such a fundamental building block of life can be traced back to one of the founding tomes of the environmental movement: Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962). Widely credited with helping launch the environmental movement, Silent Spring documented detrimental effects of pesticides, namely dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) on the environment. Greenpeace immediately latched onto Carson’s central thesis, and soon the entire environmental community was fighting for a full-scale ban of the chemical. As it turns out, however, nowhere in her book did Carson call for the unilateral suspension of chemical insecticides; she simply questioned their arbitrary and unrestricted use. As Patrick Moore points out, “It was not Rachel Carson who was unreasonable, but rather the extremists who used her writings to further a zero tolerance agenda.”

    DDT was, and remains to this day, one of the most important tools for fighting the deadly spread of malaria in the developing world. Surely in these situations, the minor risks associated with the chemical are vastly outweighed by the life-saving benefits. But even as late as 2000 Greenpeace continued lobbying the United Nations to rule out the use of DDT against malaria. Not until 2004 — under immense humanitarian pressure — did Greenpeace finally relent and decide to begrudgingly sanction the use of DDT as an insecticide. It is terrifying to think how many lives could have been saved had common sense, moderation, and science triumphed sooner over Greenpeace’s eco-dogma.

    War against Electronics and Water Bottles

    In 2006, Greenpeace released their "Guide to Greener Electronics," which rated fourteen consumer electronics vendors including Nokia, Dell, and Apple. While Nokia and Dell received some of the better scores, Greenpeace condemned the entire industry, saying that no company was doing enough to keep toxic chemicals out of consumer electronics. Apple, generally considered one of the leaders in design and innovation, raked near the bottom, coming in 11th place out of 14. In a press release entitled "HP and Apple's toxic laptops exposed" the organization claimed:

    Apple has recently launched its new range of MacBooks, but what you also get with a new MacBook is the highest level of another type of toxic flame retardant, tetrabromobisphenol A.

    What they fail to mention in the report is that along with preventing hundreds of deaths each year (by preventing electronics from bursting into flames) tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) has never been shown to be harmful to humans.

    In fact, in October of 2005, a panel of scientific experts from Europe, the EU Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), reported to the European Commission that TBBPA presents no risk to human health and indicated no need for risk reduction measures.

    Another chemical that has recently found its way into the Greenpeace crosshairs is bisphenol A, otherwise known as BPA. BPA is a building block of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins used in nearly every industry, including in the construction of plastic water bottles and food storage containers. According to anti-chemical activists, BPA is a “gender-bender” that mimics the female hormone estrogen and can be “linked” to a host of unpleasant medical conditions ranging from cancer to early onset puberty and dreaded “man boobs.” Once again, however, the hysteria failed to match reality. According to the FDA:

    Consumers should know that, based on all available evidence, the present consensus among regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan is that current levels of exposure to BPA through food packaging do not pose an immediate health risk to the general population, including infants and babies.

    This is hardly surprising news, especially considering that according to a 2009 Harris poll of full members of the Society of Toxicology, 96 percent of toxicologists believe that Greenpeace overstates chemical health risks. Something to consider next time you hear the Greenpeace Chemical Alarm Bells ringing off the hook.

    Early Targets and Continuing Objectives

    No Nukes Now. No Nukes Ever.

    When Greenpeace was founded in 1969, the possibility of total nuclear annihilation seemed both real and imminent for citizens across the globe, and the organization spent its fledgling years as a vocal opponent of all things nuclear. In 1971, Greenpeace embarked on its first voyage, a trip to Amchitka in the Aleutian Islands, in an effort to stop what was destined to be the United States’ largest underground nuclear weapons test. While that particular mission failed, the Greenpeace founders felt their mission to Amchitka, and the attention it brought to the debate about nuclear testing, played a critical role in convincing President Nixon to cancel the remaining Hydrogen bomb tests. Eventually, Greenpeace was successful in getting their anti-nuclear weapons message heard — loud and clear — across the globe.

    Despite the fact that the early 1970s marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War, and with it the slow dissipation of the anxiety surrounding the likelihood of full-blown nuclear holocaust, Greenpeace clung to their convictions regarding the evils of everything nuclear. To this day, Greenpeace maintains that nuclear power is neither safe nor clean. On the organization's website, they argue:

    1: If a meltdown were to occur, the accident could kill and injure tens of thousands of people, leaving large regions uninhabitable. And, more than 50 years after splitting the first atom, science has yet to devise a method for adequately handling long lived radioactive wastes.

    The worst nuclear disaster in history occurred in 1986 when the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine experienced a full core meltdown. This disaster is widely understood as stemming from a combination of a flawed reactor design and serious mistakes made by the plant’s inadequately trained personnel. To date, Chernobyl is the only accident in the history of commercial nuclear power where radiation-related fatalities occurred. So while dangers of nuclear power are serious indeed, Greenpeace’s fear-mongering surrounding this modality of energy production needs to be put in perspective.

    Try this statistic on for size: According to the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, there were 35 fatalities associated with wind turbines in the United States from 1970 through 2010. Nuclear energy, by contrast, did not kill a single American in that time. Indeed, the nuclear industry in the U.S. has maintained one of the best industrial safety records in the world. In 2008, workers in the U.S. nuclear industry experienced an accident rate of just 0.13 industrial accidents per 200,000 worker-hours. In comparison, the accident rate for all manufacturing industries combined, 3.5 per 200,000 worker hours. That’s 27 times the rate experienced in the nuclear industry.

    And as for the storage issue, while the technology to safely store spent nuclear waste (and even to recycle it) has existed for quite some time, Greenpeace and the culture of fear its policies continually promote continue to stand in the way of viable long term solutions the storage and disposal of nuclear waste. The saga of theYucca Mountain site in Nevada is a perfect case in point.

    2. For years nuclear plants have been leaking radioactive waste from underground pipes and radioactive waste pools into the ground water at sites across the nation.

    This is another case of Cold War history being extrapolated to stand-in for the reality of present technology. Modern storage solutions for used nuclear
    fuel are both safe and secure
    . Used nuclear fuel takes the form of solid pellets that are not corrosive and can be safely contained in the steel and concrete casks that have been specifically designed to last for hundreds of years or even longer. What is more, all of this used fuel has the capacity to be recycled:

    Over the last 50 years the principal reason for reprocessing used fuel has been to recover unused uranium and plutonium in the used fuel elements and thereby close the fuel cycle, gaining some 25% more energy from the original uranium in the process and thus contributing to energy security. A secondary reason is to reduce the volume of material to be disposed of as high-level waste to about one fifth. In addition, the level of radioactivity in the waste from reprocessing is much smaller and after about 100 years falls much more rapidly than in used fuel itself.

    Many countries, including France, Japan, the U.K. and Russia already have policies in place for the recycling of nuclear fuel, and, assuming we can get past the political posturing and culture of fear surrounding the concept of nuclear energy, there is no reason for the U.S. not to follow suit.

    3: There is no such thing as a "safe" dose of radiation and just because nuclear pollution is invisible doesn't mean it's "clean."

    Greenpeace holds to the linear no-threshold hypothesis (LNT) theory of radioactivity. In short, the LNT hypothesis says that there is no safe level of radiation. However, another model, the hormetic dose response (RH), posits that low-dose radiation (at or somewhat above natural levels) is actually beneficial to health, perhaps because of stimulation of natural repair mechanisms in the body. Current scientific belief is that neither of these two models can be seen as definitive, and without much further study it is impossible to support Greenpeace’s conclusion.

    4. In addition to being extremely dangerous, the continued greenwashing of nuclear power from industry-backed lobbyists diverts investments away from clean, renewable sources of energy. In contrast to nuclear power, renewable energy is both clean and safe. Technically accessible renewable energy sources are capable of producing six times more energy than current global demand.

    To claim that the world’s energy needs can be met by renewables alone (that is to say, wind and solar, because Greenpeace does not consider hydroelectric or biomass renewable sources) is misleading at best, and at worst, an outright fiction devised by Greenpeace to convince the world that a clean-energy future is possible without nuclear power.

    In 2011, the UK’s Independent reported on how Greenpeace plays fast and loose with the numbers in order to convince the public that a future fueled entirely by wind and solar is actually feasible:

    The world's foremost authority on climate change used a Greenpeace campaigner to help write one of its key reports, which critics say made misleading claims about renewable energy, The Independent has learnt.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), set up by the UN in 1988 to advise governments on the science behind global warming, issued a report last month suggesting renewable sources could provide 77 per cent of the world's energy supply by 2050. But in supporting documents released this week, it emerged that the claim was based on a real-terms decline in worldwide energy consumption over the next 40 years — and that the lead author of the section concerned was an employee of Greenpeace. Not only that, but the modeling scenario used was the most optimistic of the 164 investigated by the IPCC.

    Sun Microsystems co-founder turned venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, a man whose name has come to be synonymous with Clean Tech startups is also skeptical of organizations like Greenpeace’s continued insistence that the world’s energy problems can be solved by renewables alone:

    For every nuclear plant that environmentalists avoided, they ended up causing two coal plants to be built. That’s the history of the last 20 years. Most new power plants in this country are coal, because the environmentalists opposed nuclear. When you ask someone like the NRDC, ‘Do you prefer nuclear or coal?’ They’ll say ‘We prefer nuclear to coal, but we don’t want either.’ It doesn’t work that way; we need power.

    They’d like to see wind and solar photovoltaics. Well, it doesn’t work if it’s 40 cents a kilowatt hour, and it doesn’t work if you have to tell PG&E’s customers: ‘We’ll ship you power when the wind’s blowing and the sun’s shining, but otherwise, you gotta miss your favorite soap opera or NFL game.’

    And therein lies the ultimate contradiction in Greenpeace’s antinuclear agenda. “On the one hand the movement demands reductions in fossil fuel consumption while on the other it presents the greatest obstacle to achieving that goal,” writes Patrick Moore in Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout. By campaigning diligently against our two best hopes for providing energy to our growing world population, Greenpeace is, in essence, sentencing us all to a dark, cold future — one that will be especially hard for those nations and populations who cannot afford the significant investment in wind or solar power.

    Natural Disaster or Propaganda Prospect?

    During the recent Fukushima nuclear power plant failures, which occurred in the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, Greenpeace published this seemingly sympathetic statement on their website:

    Our thoughts continue to be with the Japanese people as they face the threat of nuclear disaster.

    Instead of a message of condolence for the thousands who perished in collapsed buildings, under the giant wall of water that rushed across low-lying areas, or from subsequent lack of clean drinking water or access to healthcare, Greenpeace used this human calamity to rack up yet another anti-nuke propaganda point.

    But despite claims of radiation contamination reaching as far away as California, contaminating the milk that millions of Americans drink every day with terrifyingly minuscule levels of radiation, no nuclear holocaust ensued. The plant at Fukushima weathered the most intense ordeal Mother Nature could imagine, and yet still managed to avoid becoming another Chernobyl. As George Monbiot wrote in the U.K.’s Guardian on March 21, 2011:

    You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.

    A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.

    The fact of the matter is that we are all bombarded by radiation from a wide array of sources every day, and even exposure to levels of radiation stemming from Fukushima Daiichi power plant disaster pale in comparison from the radiation from a single head or chest CT scan.

    As Greenpeace continues to fight tooth and nail against energy generated by nuclear and hydroelectric plants and the burning of fossil fuels, it becomes harder and harder to ignore that the group is, in essence, rallying against a whopping 98 percent of the world’s energy supply. This is not the path to a sustainable future for civilization.

    A Whale of a Tale

    After bringing attention to the evils of nuclear testing, Greenpeace’s second oldest mission centered on saving a creature whose gentle nature, sheer size, and extraordinary intelligence made them a perfect icon for the fledgling environmental group. “A Save the Whales campaign seemed like a brilliant idea,” writes Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore. “Especially since whales were such huge symbolic creatures in their own right. Through magazines, movies and television, the public was gaining and appreciation for the complexity of whale behavior, social life, and intelligence. Whales were cool.”

    Indeed, ever since their first mission to prevent Russian fishing fleets from harpooning endangered whales off the California coast in 1975, Greenpeace has milked the emotional impact of whale slaughter for all it’s worth. And while the group is content to let the plight of these gentle giants help them raise funds and recruit members, Greenpeace’s actual impact on the whaling industry over the past 35 years is highly suspect.

    In 2008, Paul Watson, an early member of Greenpeace and later the Founder and President of the controversial Sea Shepherd Conservation Society penned a scathing commentary about the “fraud” of Greenpeace’s Save the Whales campaign:

    “Enough is enough,” he writes. “The Greenpeace fraud about saving the whales must be exposed. For years, I have been tolerating their pretense of action and watching them rake in tremendous profits from whaling.”

    “Greenpeace makes more money from anti-whaling than Norway and Iceland combined make from whaling. In both cases, the whales die and someone profits.”

    Greenpeace, he argues, uses the emotional tug of whales being slaughtered to pull in donations and recruit members. But while Greenpeace has used this tactic successfully to pull in hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of their more than 40 years in existence, they have not succeeded in stopping Japanese whalers from continuing their harvest.

    “This year's [2008] annual appeal to save whales by Greenpeace is just the latest public relations strategy in a global campaign to fleece money from people of good conscience,” writes Watson. And according to Watson, Greenpeace does not even fundamentally oppose whaling. Consider these quotes from Greenpeace spokespersons:

    "Greenpeace is not opposed to whaling in principle."

    "Greenpeace is not opposed to whaling in principle."

    John Frizell, Director of Greenpeace International. From the Greenpeace Policy Paper, 1994

    "As a natural scientist I cannot accept that Greenpeace is opposed to whaling. One must be allowed to harvest a renewable resource. To me, this is an important principle."

    Leif Ryvarden, former Chairman of Greenpeace Norway. From an interview with Dagbladet, August 2, 1991

    "The 1993 Minke whale harvest did not constitute a threat to the stock."

    Ingrid Bertinussen, Greenpeace Norway Director. From an interview on Norwegian radio (NRK), October 22, 1993

    "The Norwegian catch is not a threat to the Minke whale stock."

    Kalle Hesstvedt of Greenpeace Norway from an interview with the Norwegian newspaper "Nordlys" on May 21, 2008. Hesstvedt does not rule out the possibility that Greenpeace might accept commercial whaling when catch quotas are allocated by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

    In 1997, Watson had Greenpeace investigated by the National Marine Fisheries Service of the United States for participating in a whale hunt. Greenpeace crewmembers on the Arctic Sunrise actually towed a slaughtered bowhead whale to shore as a favor for the Inupiat whalers in the Bering Sea. In doing so, he claims they violated both U.S. and international law. The incident was reported widely in the Alaskan media and the whalers used the incident to ridicule Greenpeace at the 1997 International Whaling Commission meeting in Monaco.

    The Lorax Lore

    Greenpeace has long been a foe of the forestry industry despite the fact that trees and their products are one of the world’s most important renewable resources. Wood products make up 47 percent of all industrial raw materials manufactured in the United States, yet consume only 4 percent of the total energy needed to manufacture all industrial raw materials. In addition, just one mature tree absorbs approximately 13 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. For every ton of wood a forest grows, it removes 1.47 tons of carbon dioxide and replaces it with 1.07 tons of oxygen.

    So why hasn’t anyone asked Greenpeace why, if they are so much in favor of saving both trees and the environment, they continue to oppose sustainable forestry practices? Instead of trying to wean ourselves off wood products, we should be embracing the use of wood and, by extension, growing more trees.


    • Wood is a renewable material.
    • It requires less energy to produce than alternative building products and contributes far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than its non-renewable counterparts, steel and concrete.
    • Wood is the best insulator against heat and cold, which makes it the most energy-efficient material to help keep home energy bills in check. Unlike steel and concrete, wood doesn't conduct heat and cold. Wood is 400 times less heat conductive than steel, so homes built with wood studs take less energy to heat and cool.
    • As the world's only renewable building material, wood can not only be recycled, but also regenerated. What's more, trees provide benefits to the environment while they grow, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

    Greenpeace doesn’t want us cutting trees or using wood (or paper products, and don’t even get them started on toilet paper). But if we stopped using wood and cutting down trees, we would automatically have to use more steel, concrete and plastic as the raw materials to support the world’s infrastructure.

    And contrary to popular belief, we're not running out of trees. In fact, forest growth in the U.S. has continually exceeded harvest since the 1940s. The geographic area that encompasses the United States today has a greater extent of forest cover — one-third of the landmass — than it did in 1920.

    But in an effort to support their irrational position against forestry, Greenpeace has yet again stooped to bending the truth — this time misrepresenting the ever-credible IPCC’s position on forestry. According to Greenpeace, the IPCC shares its own goal of achieving zero deforestation, globally, by 2020. In reality, what the IPCC says is this:

    In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit.

    Greenpeace wants to blame loggers for deforestation, when in actuality more deforestation is caused by our continuing demand for agricultural products to feed the population. Sustainable forestry creates more trees than it destroys, but clearing virgin forests to grow food is undoubtedly bad for both the environment and the trees.

    Strangely, though not surprisingly, one of the solutions to halting the continued conversion of virgin forest into agricultural land is yet another of Greenpeace’s biggest targets: genetically engineered (GE) crops. One of the goals of GE crops is to grow more food from a smaller agricultural footprint — and yet Greenpeace wants to ensure that the world never see the benefits of these technologies.

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