Greenpeace dares Paterson to debate GMs and environment

Greenpeace has hit back at claims from former Defra secretary Owen Paterson that its anti-GM crops stance would condemn billions to death – and offered to debate the subject with him.

Mr Paterson, who was ousted by the Conservatives as Defra secretary in July 2014, accused the European Union and Greenpeace, of condemning people in the developing world to death by refusing to accept GM crops.

But Graham Thompson, spokesman for Greenpeace UK, hit back at Mr Paterson’s accusations – and said the organisation would happily debate the value to society of GM crops with him.

See also: GM opponents condemn billions to death, says Paterson

Mr Thompson said: “Greenpeace would like to respond to some of the accusations made against us by Mr Paterson over the last year, most recently to Farmers Weekly.

“We do not practise witchcraft. Honestly. And we do not commit acts of terrorism – though we have been the victim of terrorism, when the French government bombed our ship and killed a crew member.”

He added: “We have not burnt Mr Paterson in effigy, and we would never do such a thing, despite his claiming we did.

“We did not destroy a rice trial in the Philippines, and we did not pay poor farmers to do so on our behalf, though we do have legitimate concerns about GM crops.

“We’d be happy to debate with him, but for that debate to shed more light than heat, we’d need him to stick a bit more closely to the facts.”

During a recent visit to South Africa where he visited GM maize farmers, Mr Paterson said opposition to GMs by the “green blob” – a network of environmental groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials – were “condemning billions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment”.

And he said pursuing their anti-GM policies would decimate the natural world and “devastate species and biodiversity”.

Mr Paterson asked: “Do Greenpeace supporters understand that they are truly wicked? It is eco-terrorism. It is witchcraft.”

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