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  • A Greenpeace activist displays signs symbolizing genetically modified crops during a protest.

    A Greenpeace activist displays signs symbolizing genetically modified crops during a protest. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 June 2016

The Nobel Prize scientists, of the 296 who are still alive, criticized Greenpeace and its campaign against any genetic manipulation of organisms.

One hundred scientists in the United States have signed a letter asking environmental organization Greenpeace to end its smear campaign against genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

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"We urge Greenpeace and their followers to examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with food and crops improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of relevant scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon its campaign against 'genetically modified organisms' in general and particularly against golden rice," the letter stated.

The letter, as well as the campaign, was organized by Richard Roberts, director of New England Biolabs and Phillip Sharp, winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1993 for discovering genetic sequences, called introns.

"We are scientists. We are aware of the logic of science. It is easy to see that what Greenpeace does is harmful and anti-scientific," said Roberts to the Washington Post.

In the letter, scientists explain that golden rice is a modified rice to reduce vitamin A deficiency, which affects 250 million people worldwide and is considered the leading cause of blindness in 500,000 children each year.

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Nobel Prize winner Randy Schekman told the Washington Post he was surprised that "groups that are strongly in favor of science when it comes to climate change, or the value of vaccination to prevent human diseases, can be so dismissive of the general opinion of scientists when it comes to something as important as the agricultural future of the world."

The scientists argue that golden rice is as safe as products produced by other methods, including hybrids. According to them, its impact on the environment is no different than any other crop.

But the Southeast Asia office of Greenpeace said golden rice has failed as a solution and is not currently available for sale, even after more than 20 years of research. According to the organization, the International Rice Research Institute has not demonstrated that it can solve the problem of vitamin A deficiency.

According to Greenpeace, biotech companies will use golden rice to introduce other genetically modified crops. They say the public and governments should instead focus on more diverse diets, enable better access to different foodstuffs and implement methods of organic farming.

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