After reading the title of this blog post, I can imagine that the majority of you are expecting to be entertained by a convoluted theory full of interesting but tenuous tidbits. The kind of over-analytical claptrap you find on sites like BuzzFeed that have the veneer of intellectualism, but in reality are nothing more than hollow click-bait. Unfortunately, you are going to be disappointed because as silly as it sounds, “Why does Greenpeace like the grapefruit?” is an important question and one that we should all be asking. This is because it exposes the dogmatic hypocrisy that lies at the core of the organisation.
Without a doubt, Greenpeace has previously been a force for good. They helped convince governments and the population as a whole the importance of protecting the environment and biodiversity, to stress the need for renewable energy, and to condemn the gruesome act of seal clubbing – to name a few. But they have since become a husk of their former selves as their once unpopular views have been adopted by the general public leaving them with only their outdated anti-science opinions on certain technologies. The organisation is now only attractive to those who share its archaic dogmatic views and has now become a rabble of ideologues who peddle an agenda no matter what the scientific consensus says, and nowhere is this more apparent than in their militant (and almost hysterical) opposition of GMOs.
Greenpeace, for the past few decades, has been warning us about the dangers of GMOs and why they should be avoided. They have done this not by funding scientific research investigating any negative effects of the technology, but by extravagant publicity stunts that, when you strip back all the theatrics, have nothing of substance. They tell us that there is a lack of scientific understanding on GMOs and therefore they should not be allowed on the market, whilst paradoxically encouraging or excusing the destruction of scientific research. They have even, in the past, cut out the middle man and destroyed scientific research themselves. Take for example the CSIRO experimental farm in Australia where Greenpeace protesters broke in at night and destroyed half a hectare of GM wheat with weedwhackers; all whilst recording themselves.
Greenpeace are not alone in their stance on GMOs. Other organisations like Friends of the Earth, GM Freeze, and even political parties like the Green Party would also like a moratorium if not an all out ban on the technology. The main reasons they give for such a stance is that once released into the environment, there is no way of controlling them, that they may contaminate “natural” organisms, and that GMOs have a detrimental effect on human health. Although their fears seem reasonable, there is a fatal flaw in their logic which is they are only against specific organisms that can be categorically called a GMO.
A GMO by definition is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. However, it might surprise you to hear that there are techniques that can alter the DNA of an organism which do not come under the umbrella term of a “genetic engineering technique”. Meaning you can use them to alter the DNA of an organism but it won’t technically be a GMO. One of these techniques is mutation breeding in which an organism is exposed to either chemicals or radiation in order to generate mutants with desirable traits. One of the mutants produced by this method is the Ruby Red grapefruit which you can probably find in your local greengrocers.
It was created back in 1929 using a form of mutation breeding called atomic gardening. This is where plants are arranged in a circular pattern with a radiation source placed in the middle. This gives a range of radiation doses resulting in death or tumours growth and other abnormalities for those close to the source and higher amount of random, multiple and unspecific mutations for those further away. When this was done to the grapefruit, one of the plants mutated to give a much richer and darker red coloured fruit. This was then put on the market and became such a commercial success it became Texas’ state fruit…..whatever that means.
There have been literally thousands of mutants created using this method that are now on the market, including peppermint, peanuts, and bananas. All of these can be labelled as ORGANIC because technically this modification to their DNA has not been accomplished using “genetic engineering techniques”.
This is why you should be asking why does Greenpeace like the grapefruit because the difference between a GMO and a mutant made using atomic gardening is just a technicality. For example, if you wanted to, you could knock out a gene precisely using genetic engineering techniques creating a GMO which Greenpeace would automatically be against. Or you could use mutant breeding that, as well as knocking out the same gene, would create an unknown amount of mutations and Greenpeace would give it a pass.
Greenpeace should be up in arms that mutants are being made using this unregulated, sloppy, and unguided technique and that they are allowed to be sold to unknowing consumers. That these mutants will most definitely contain a plethora of mutations that are unknown because of the blunt and chaotic method of their creation. That their effects on human health have not been investigated because, unlike GMOs, they are not required to go through vigorous testing before release. And they have the ability to breed with “natural” organisms and you can patent them!
So why does Greenpeace like the grapefruit? Because if they didn’t, people would see how ridiculously child-like their ‘painting all GMOs with the same brush’ opposition is. Nearly all the arguments they make against GMOs can also be made against the products of atomic gardening. It is therefore either hypocritical or incompetent of them not to protest these mutants!