Environmentalists Turn to Terrorism
September 26, 2002
by Dennis T. Avery
In Africa, environmental groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have lobbied the governments of drought-stricken countries not to distribute American corn donated as food aid to their millions of starving people—because it might contain genetically modified kernels.
Thus Greenpeace and Friends say that starving Africans should forgo foodstuffs that most of those organizations’ American members have been eating for the past decade, with no ill effects, so that Western greens can make a political point.
The president of Zambia says the activists told him the corn is “poison.” This is the same pest-resistant corn approved for safety by three different U.S. government agencies, and eaten daily since 1995 by millions of Americans in such forms as corn flakes, corn flour, and, through livestock feed, hamburgers and ice cream. Biotech foods have undergone more testing than any foods in history, with no danger found.
But in Zambia, 17,000 tons of U.S. corn are locked in warehouses, while desperate women and children grub for roots and eat tree bark. A blind old man cries out for something—anything—to eat.
Meanwhile, at the recent “Earth Summit plus 10” in Johannesburg, three policemen were wounded by angry activists. The protesters weren’t angry about the wild creatures being killed and eaten by starving people whose farming systems are too primitive to provide food security. The activists were instead declaring their solidarity with Palestinian “suicide bombers.”
In the Netherlands, a candidate for Prime Minister was murdered last year—shot at close range with hand-loaded hollow-point bullets—by an animal rights activist apparently angry over fur farming and confinement hog production.
Animal rights fanatics beat a medical research executive with a baseball bat and burned the apartment of a financial firm’s president. The men attacked had committed the “crime” of aiding the search for medicines to cure diseases in the most effective way we know—testing new medicines on a few laboratory animals. Such testing has saved millions of human and animal lives.
In August, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) torched a U.S. Forest Service research laboratory in Pennsylvania. The lab was researching sustainable forestry. The group said it was protesting “proposed timber sales, oil drilling, and greed driven manipulation of nature.”
Worse, the ELF communiqué claiming credit for the fire declared that “segments of this global revolutionary movement are no longer limiting their revolutionary potential by adhering to a flawed, inconsistent ‘non-violent’ ideology . . . where necessary, we will no longer hesitate to pick up the gun to implement justice.”
Of course, we owe a debt to the founders of the environmental movement. They called our attention to the environmental dangers years before we might have elevated eco-priorities without their urging. The very success of the environmental movement may have made it inevitable that some eco-zealots would overestimate their virtue and power.
Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, still contends that environmentalists’ non-violent confrontation in the 1970s was valid, even though virtually no one paid any attention to protecting the environment. Moore resigned from the group in the mid-1980s because Greenpeace was still bent on confrontation, even though a huge majority of the public by then supported environmental protection.
I was privileged to be in the 1963 March on Washington, when the Rev. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. King, I feel sure, would be the first to warn us that violence and inhumanity have no place in American democracy. It doesn’t matter if they’re intended to further civil rights, environmental protection, or other lofty goals.
Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are zealots who believe they are pursuing a noble cause. We must remember that those sentiments are held by the remnants of both the Ku Klux Klan and the primitive fanatics who attacked us last September.
This article appeared in the Knight-Ridder Tribune on September 14, 2002, and is reprinted with permission.
Dennis T. Avery is based in Churchville, VA, and is director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues.