#050 – Is Greenpeace Good for the Environment?

The League of Nerds

Myles and James are once again joined by Gaz from Leicester Skeptics in the Pub. This week we ask “Is Greenpeace good for the environment?’

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About Myles Power (555 Articles)
My name is Myles Power, and I run the educational YouTube channel, powerm1985. I spend what little free time I have sharing my love of SCIENCE! through home experiments, visiting sites of scientific interest, and angrily ranting at pseudoscience proponents. I am also one of the founding members of the podcast 'The League of Nerds' - which I co-host with James from 'The History of Infection'.

5 Comments on #050 – Is Greenpeace Good for the Environment?

  1. While I generally agree with your points, I think saying that corporations and government doing bad things isn’t a problem anymore sounds a bit overly optimistic, otherwise we would have stopped using coal by now.

    I think one of the big dangers with greenpeace and the like is that they help fuel the kind of people and organisations pushing climate change denialism, and attack AGW as an idea perpetrated by loonies who don’t care about science, instead of actually confronting the science, potentally pushing people who are turned of by anti-gmo and anti-nuclear messages environmentalist NGOs push, into distrusting actual science on climate change and other environmental issues. (Like Patrick Moore buying into climate-change denialism, if that is correct.)

    The anti-science ideas produced by both these crowds sound to me like a sort of lack of trust, allowing any opposing viewpoint to simply be dismissed on the grounds that the people representing the viewpoint are portrayed as untrustworthy, rather than actually confronting evidence.

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  2. Which Greenpeace report was it that had that egregious claim about the lacewings, that was completely contradicted by the research they cited?

    Totally agree on the accountability problem for the NGOs. The barriers they create to the use of technology are great for their fundraising, but there’s no way to hold them to their consequences. This is so very frustrating.

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  3. Shahab Sarshar Fard // November 12, 2014 at 1:47 pm // Reply

    I found the accountability problem fascinating as well, I wonder how this will all play out decades from now.. I suspect they will claim that, with the research of the time they were justified in opposing it. And as much as a U turn would be welcomed now, it (for me) would have to be quite the turn, otherwise, too little too late.

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  4. So Greenpeace’s claims are contradicted by the research they cite. I think I found what you were talking about.

    Greenpeace: Toxic to harmless non-target species. Long-term exposure to pollen from GM insect-resistant maize causes adverse effects on the behaviour (1) and survival (2) of the monarch butterfly, America’s most famous butterfly. Few studies on European butterflies have been conducted, but those that have suggest they would suffer from pesticide-producing GM crops (3,4,5,6).

    1
    Prasifka, P.L., Hellmich, R.L., Prasifka, J.R. & L
    ewis, L.C. 2007. Effects of Cry1Ab-expressing corn
    anthers on the movement of
    monarch butterfly larvae. Environ Entomolology 36:2
    28-33.
    2
    Dively, G.P., Rose, R., Sears, M.K., Hellmich, R.L
    . Stanley-Horn, D.E. Calvin, D.D. Russo, J.M. & And
    erson, P.L.. 2004. Effects on
    monarch butterfly larvae (Lepidoptera: Danaidae) af
    ter continuous exposure to Cry1Ab expressing corn d
    uring anthesis.
    Environmental Entomology 33: 1116-1125.
    3
    Lang, A. & Vojtech, E. 2006. The effects of pollen
    consumption of transgenic Bt maize on the common s
    wallowtail,
    Papilio machaon
    L.
    (Lepidoptera, Papilionidae). Basic and Applied Ecol
    ogy 7: 296—306.
    4
    Darvas, B., Lauber, E., Polga ́r, L. A., Peregovits
    , L., Ronkay, L., Juracsek, J., et al. 2004. Non-ta
    rget effects of DK-440-BTY
    (Yieldgard) Bt-corn. First Hungarian–Taiwanese ento
    mological symposium, 11–12 October 2004, Budapest H
    ungarian National
    History Museum (p. 5).
    5
    Felke, V.M. & Langenbruch, G.A. 2003. Wirkung von
    Bt-Mais-Pollen auf Raupen des Tagpfauenauges im Lab
    orversuch (Effect of Bt-
    maize-pollen on caterpillars of
    Inachis io
    in a laboratory assay). Gesunde Pflanzen, 55: 1-7.
    6
    Felke, M., Lorenz, N. & Langenbruch, G-A. 2002. La
    boratory studies on the effects of pollen from Bt-m
    aize on larvae of some butterfly
    species. Journal of Applied Entomology 126: 320–325.

    http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/Global/eu-unit/reports-briefings/2011%20pubs/9/Health%20and%20Environmental%20Impacts%20of%20GM%20crops.pdf

    1. Effects of Cry1Ab-expressing corn anthers on the movement of monarch butterfly larvae.

    ” However, larvae exposed to Bt anthers spent more time off milkweed leaf disks than those exposed to no anthers and were more likely to move off the leaf than larvae exposed to non-Bt anthers. Results suggest that larvae exposed to Bt anthers behave differently and that ingestion may not be the only way Bt can affect nontarget insects like the monarch butterfly.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17349137

    2. Effects on Monarch Butterfly Larvae (Lepidoptera: Danaidae) After Continuous Exposure to Cry1Ab-Expressing Corn During Anthesis

    “Results indicate that 23.7% fewer larvae exposed to these levels of Bt pollen during anthesis reached
    the adult stage”
    http://www.biosicherheit.de/pdf/dokumente/bt-monarch-maryland.pdf

    3. The effects of pollen consumption of transgenic Bt maize on the common swallowtail, Papilio machaon L. (Lepidoptera, Papilionidae)

    “Larvae which were exposed to higher Bt maize pollen densities consumed more pollen and had a lower survival rate. The LD 50 with regard to larvae surviving to adulthood was 13.72 pollen grains consumed by first-instar larva. Uptake of Bt maize pollen led to a reduced plant consumption, to a lower body weight, and to a longer development time of larvae. Effects on pupal weight and duration of the pupal period were present but less pronounced and smaller than effects on larvae. Larvae having consumed Bt-maize pollen as first instars had a lower body weight as adult females and smaller forewings as adult males.”
    http://somloquesembrem.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Btpapallonas.pdf

    Well, thats all I have time for. Remind me again – what was that you said about Greenpeace assuming nobody would check their references?

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  5. I am going along with a number of issues you’re mentioning. But you are contradicting yourself in some details. While saying that Greenpeace has a good position on climate change and protecting the Arctic, you criticize the Gazprom protest, which was conducted in order to try stop Gazprom to drill for oil in the Arctic (one issue here is we should keep the Arctic free from oil drilling and industrial fishing etc. The other issue is we have to keep oil and coal in the ground in order to tackle climate change). The protest was in international waters (they didn’t break any Russian law) and was a peaceful protest (trespassing at most, where a violent/gun shooting response of the Russian coastguards was just out of context).

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