Has Greenpeace lost its moral compass?

By |2013-10-05T22:21:11+00:00October 5th, 2013|Op-Ed Articles|27 Comments

As a young PhD student in ecology, recently radicalized by the Vietnam War, the Cold War and the threat of all-out nuclear war, I joined a small group in the basement of the Unitarian Church in Vancouver to plan a protest voyage against US hydrogen bomb testing in Alaska. In the Fall of 1971 I sailed on that boat, beginning a 15-year period in my life as a director and leader of Greenpeace. Patrick MooreThe two senior founders of Greenpeace, Jim Bohlen and Irving Stowe, were Quakers, a faith that emphasizes peace and humanitarian goals. Greenpeace’s first campaign to prevent nuclear war was indeed a humanitarian campaign, an effort to prevent untold suffering among people, as well as to prevent the destruction and contamination of the environment.

As time went on Greenpeace evolved to take on many other campaigns; save the whales, stop the baby seal slaughter, end the dumping of toxic waste into the air and water, making Antarctica into a World Park. During my 15-year tenure a change occurred, from concern for the welfare of people to a belief that humans were the enemy of the earth. For me, the culmination of that campaign came when my fellow directors of Greenpeace International adopted a campaign to Ban Chlorine Worldwide. For them the logic was simple. Chlorine is toxic and many chlorine compounds such as dioxins are toxic so therefore ban chlorine altogether. When I reminded my colleagues that adding chlorine to drinking water was the biggest advance in the history of public health and that the majority of our medicines are based on chlorine chemistry they behaved as if that didn’t matter a bit. I realized that the humanitarian side of Greenpeace had vanished and that I had to leave.

I left Greenpeace determined to build an environmental policy that balanced environmental, social, and economic needs, the definition of sustainability. A sensible environmentalist bases their policies on science and logic as opposed to sensationalism, misinformation and fear. And a sensible environmentalist recognizes the needs of over 7 billion people for food, energy, and materials to build our civilization.

Golden riceIt was 10 years after I left Greenpeace when the first genetically modified crops were introduced. Almost immediately Greenpeace came out in opposition to this scientific breakthrough, stating that they would rip the new crops out of the ground if anyone dared plant them. Today there are more that 17 million farmers in 28 countries growing GM crops on 170 million hectares (420 million acres) of land, an area greater than the total farmland of the United States. But Golden Rice is not one of these crops and Greenpeace and their allies are largely if not entirely to blame.

Golden rice attackOn August 8, 2013 activists supported by Greenpeace destroyed a field test of Golden Rice in the Philippines. Greenpeace routinely complains that there has not been enough “testing” of GM crops for their impact on the environment and human health. Yet when scientists conduct field trials to test the environmental effects, or feed Golden Rice to animals and people to see if it works, Greenpeace destroys the tests and discredits the scientists.

When Dr. Guangwen Tang and colleagues published their positive results of feeding Golden Rice to vitamin A deficient children in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009, Greenpeace accused the scientists of using children as guinea pigs for potentially toxic rice. There is nothing remotely toxic about vitamin A, it is an essential nutrient, yet Greenpeace’s condemnation resulted in news stories around the world that reflected their misinformation campaign to millions of people.

Greenpeace is using its $300 million-plus income to stifle one of the most important advances in human nutrition and disease prevention. They claim that there are better ways to cure vitamin A deficiency but they have no program to deliver these supposedly better cures. Filipino girlsGreenpeace refuses to listen to the scientists and humanitarians working in the field of nutrient deficiency, who know that Golden Rice is the best way to deal with this affliction. Instead, Greenpeace fundraises against Golden Rice and as far as I am concerned they have the blood of these millions of children on their hands.

In my opinion Greenpeace has lost its moral compass.


More on the destruction of the golden rice field trial in the Philippines.


  1. Keef Wivaneff October 5, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    Yes but……….


    What would I know?
    I’m a little teapot.

  2. Mark H October 6, 2013 at 2:21 AM

    I agree Greenpeace is wrong on many issues, but GMO is only a mega-corporate profit venture, it has NOTHING to do with helping humanity, just like Carbon Trading has nothing to do with the climate.

    • colleenf October 6, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      How do you think we got better strains of corn, cotton, wheat?
      Many of our hybrid vegetables are the result of long and tedious trial and error.
      Without the testing and experimentation, we would still be eating as if it were the 16th century!
      Do you think these researchers and scientists are all out there working for free…with free homes….free electricity….free food…..free water…..free clothing???
      Of course not!
      Someone pays them a salary to help them to have the time and education to create solutions to problems facing mankind every day!
      And that is where the big corporations come in………….it is all about give and take…………and a healthy dose of capitalism…………so live with it!

      • Keef Wivaneff October 6, 2013 at 5:37 PM

        Plant improvement by selective breeding is NOT the same thing as GM food.

        “And that is where the big corporations come in………….it is all about give and take…………and a healthy dose of capitalism”


        • richb313 October 12, 2013 at 12:37 AM

          Why are you so fearful of “Big Corporations”? Why are you so fearful of “Capitalism”? It is corporations and capitalism that made it possible for you to be fed, employed, and able to comment on this thread.

          • Keef Wivaneff October 12, 2013 at 2:04 AM

            Well, I’m certainly afraid of Monsanto.

            They have demonstrated outrageous greed and disregard for the safety of the human race.

            Just wait until we’ve all absorbed the TERMINATOR GENE!

            You want an embryo? Monsanto holds the patent.

            PAY UP and SHUT UP.

            Back to that BIG CORPORATION thing.

            Why is it that a citizen can be locked away for fraud or theft BUT if you are a company exec …..you get a FREAKING BONUS for doing the same thing?


            I blew the whistle on that one……didn’t do any good.

            I’m still blowing my whistle


            It keeps me amused!

        • MBrettH December 23, 2013 at 2:22 AM

          Keef, the piece of earth your house sits on used to have a tree on it. OMG!! You are a horrible blight on the environment. Maybe you should go off yourself. Be as good a starting place as any. Put your money where your mouth is.

          • Keef Wivaneff December 23, 2013 at 3:21 AM

            The environment has been greatly improved due to my positive contribution.
            Now go put your head back up your bum.

        • Mauricio Quintero October 11, 2014 at 1:25 PM

          The only difference is scales of time.

          • Keef Wivaneff October 11, 2014 at 1:31 PM

            How much time does it take to cross a cabbage with a goldfish?

            • Mauricio Quintero October 11, 2014 at 11:22 PM
            • Keef Wivaneff October 12, 2014 at 7:43 AM

              Great resource (not)

              Ask an INDEPENDENT expert!


              Adrianne Massey, Ph.D.

              Managing Director, Science and Regulatory Affairs, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)


              Aimee Hood

              Regulatory Communications and Information Management Lead, Monsanto Company


              Alan McHughen

              CE Biotechnology Specialist and Geneticist

              Independent Expert

              Alison Van Eenennaam

              Animal Genomics and Biotechnology Cooperative Extension Specialist, University of California, Davis

              Independent Expert

    • Mauricio Quintero October 11, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      Norman Borlaug won Bobel prize for something.

  3. robinswebnest October 6, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    Greenpeace has gone the way of most liberal political machines. Instead of helping people, they want control. It is their way or no way.

    I used to be a supporter of Greenpeace, but no longer. Their arrogance and violence towards anyone who doesn’t agree with them, is to reminiscent of the progressives.
    What was once a party intent on protecting people, has now become just another progressive tool. Just like oceana.
    How many of you remember the gulf oil spill? The one where obama refused aid from numerous countries because he wanted the oil company to fix it. BP was not capable of fixing it and it caused millions of dollars in damage and even more in lost wages.
    Another words, it was a power play with absolutely no concern of the people it harmed. Yet, oceana was not there screaming about the damage. Why?
    All the great ideas and hopefulness of the 60’s have slowly been corrupted and are being used by a restrictive, arrogant and unfeeling party known as the democratic party

  4. Richard October 6, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    I am not saying I agree with Greenpeace on the way they handled this.

    The article made me realize, though, that I am not sure you have considered GMO’s more thoroughly.

    In my opinion,GMOs are dangerous and filled with disinformation and misinformation just like climate gate.


    It is about control for the sake of profit guised under the false promise of better and more nutritional crops with less need for pesticides.

    GMO’s are toxic to our internal and external environment.


    Sure, let’s trust Monsanto and their slanted studies, after all they also brought us these other 12 wonderful products.


    They put millions into lobbying for control. They have dubious influence in the FDA.


    Perhaps, it is beyond the scope of what your mission and vision are for this site, but I believe, that there can be no constructive tomorrow if GMO’s and their pushers have their way.

    • richb313 October 12, 2013 at 12:42 AM

      Yes, GMOs are filled with vast amounts of misinformation as your links just prove. Be careful who you believe. Think for yourself. Where are the horror stories if GMOs were dangerous? You could not hide this. Instead everywhere GMOs are used life expectancy increases and overall health gets better.

  5. Oliver_K_Manuel October 6, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Greenpeace became a Stalinist tool of propaganda control

  6. jameshrust October 6, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    Goggle the name Norman Bourlag and see what GM food means and the great benefits for society. We can not feed 7 billion with organic farming. Do you want to abandon GM products and let the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse roam the planet forever.
    James H. Rust

  7. Oilfart1 October 6, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    it is encouraging that a scientist has moved beyond the idea that everything humans do is wrong. While the idea of GM food gives me the willies, if it can be used to prevent unnecessary starvation deaths of any group of people, get after it. This situation sounds similar to the outlawing of DDT which would save tens of thousands of malaria deaths annually if allowed to be used in Africa. The people there want to use it, but are not allowed.

    • richb313 October 12, 2013 at 12:30 AM

      We have been using genetically modified food for hundreds of years. The only new thing is the method of that modification. Do we need to be careful, yes. Do we need to be fearful, no.

  8. Political Vel Craft October 6, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    Greenpeace is a tool of George Soros ~ but GMOs are deadly.

    New Zealand’s Food And Environment Is GMO Free: Petition For Continued Moratorium On GMOs!


    Russia Arrests Soros EcoTerrorists: Greenpeace Indicted For Piracy ~ While Cabal’s BP Destroys Gulf Of Mexico & Indonesia!


  9. cardigan October 7, 2013 at 5:53 AM

    “There is nothing remotely toxic about vitamin A”
    There can be in excess, just don’t overdose on Polar Bear liver, that’s all!

  10. Shadeburst October 9, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    For the last 30 years, diabetic insulin has been made from GM yeast. Previously it was made from the pancreases of slaughtered pigs. This made it unavailable to vegans and some religious groups. Diabetics inject themselves with GM insulin 4 or more times a day. So far (admittedly only 30 years) no adverse results.

    • MBrettH December 23, 2013 at 2:26 AM

      Without GM, there would be no way to get tomatoes to last long enough to get to market in edible condition.
      Ever eat a tangelo? Wonderful old-fashioned type GMO and delicious. I’m not dead yet.

  11. Art C. November 1, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    Your article inspired this meme, Dr. Moore. Thank you for the courageous and enlightening expose of Greenpeace.

  12. Jimmy Jacked March 21, 2014 at 1:35 AM

    I used to support Greenpeace too, but not now. In my country they are continually disrupting and terrorizing commerce and industry with the result that people who need jobs do not get them. The result is continuing poverty for these people and lost revenue for the government, revenue that could have been spent on better social services. Greenpeace is toxic.

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