In fact, these people are more dangerous than the anti-science climate change deniers.
Despite the scaremongering and the violence to prevent scientific experimentation - - - in June 2008 for example, 35 masked intruders destroyed genetically modified wheat being tested by researchers at a public research facility, near Zurich and threatened staff with harm - - there is no evidence that GM foods have had any negative impact on human health.
The Irish Government's Chief Scientific Adviser Prof Patrick Cunningham, who has issued a formal report to the Government on GM foods, which looked at safety, benefits and risks, in July 2008 told an Oireachtas Committee that he believed GM was of value to Ireland: "The answer has to be yes," he said.
"[ GM] is not going to go away and it is advancing at a hell of a rate," he said. Countries around the world were growing about 100 million hectares of GM corn, cotton, soyabean and rice.
Genetic modifications impart resistance to herbicides and insect attack, providing cost and yield improvement for the farmer, he said. "This has given a tremendous competitive advantage to those using [ GM]."
Speaking in the wake of food giant Nestlé's call for the European Union to review its opposition to GM, Sir David King, former UK Chief Scientific Adviser told the Financial Times in early July 2008: "There is only one technology likely to deliver [the yield increases needed] and that is GM."
A Financial Times report last year said that while today’s GM crops are designed to resist what scientists call “biotic stress” - - pests and weeds - - the second generation, currently under development, will focus on “abiotic stress”. This encompasses non-biological factors such as drought and floods, heat and cold, salinity and acidity. The biggest research effort is to make plants use water more efficiently.
“Abiotic stress reduces yield in major crops by 65-80 per cent,”says Michael Metzlaff, head of crop productivity for Bayer of Germany. His company’s experiments show that “gene silencing” technology can reduce the production of a key enzyme called Parp, which controls plants’ response to stress. As a result the plant grows better under adverse conditions. Companies plan to launch drought-resistant maize varieties between 2012 and 2015. Chris Zinselmeier, head of water optimisation research for Syngenta of Switzerland, says the aim is to produce a strain that yields better than conventional maize in drought years but “carries no yield penalty when water is plentiful”.
In addition to drought resistance, the industry is working on several other traits. One product, Syngenta’s Corn Amylase, shows how GM could help the biofuels industry. It is maize genetically modified to produce high levels of an enzyme, alpha amylase, that is a critical ingredient in the production of bio-ethanol. John Atkin, Syngenta’s head of crop protection, says Corn Amylase will improve the efficiency of bio-ethanol manufacturing from maize by 5-10 per cent.
Monsanto is meanwhile working on adding genes that enable crops to use nitrogen more efficiently. Nitrogen fertilisers represent one of the largest input costs in agriculture: in the US alone, farmers spend more than $3bn a year applying nitrogen fertilisers to maize fields and at least half of the nitrogen is wasted because it is not taken up by the crop.
Well-fed anti-GM campaigners in Europe are unlikely to be impressed by the latest developments. Extremists can always Google to find some argument to support their prejudices and their familiarity with tropical countries may only extend to packaged or backpacker holidays.
Jacques Diouf, the director-general of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said in Rome on Monday, that world population is projected to rise to 9.1 billion in 2050 from a current 6.7 billion, requiring a 70-per cent increase in farm production. In addition to a growing scarcity of natural resources such as land, water and biodiversity "global agriculture will have to cope with the effects of climate change, notably higher temperatures, greater rainfall variability and more frequent extreme weather events such as floods and droughts," he said.
Climate change would reduce water availability and lead to an increase in plant and animal pests and diseases. The combined effects of climate change could reduce potential output by up to 30 per cent in Africa and up to 21 per cent in Asia, the FAO Chief noted.
"The challenge is not only to increase global future production but to increase it where it is mostly needed and by those who need it most," he stressed."There should be a special focus on smallholder farmers, women and rural households and their access to land, water and high quality seeds... and other modern inputs."
Food production would also face increasing competition from the biofuel market "which has the potential to change the fundamentals of agricultural market systems," with production set to increase by nearly 90 per cent over the next 10 years to reach 192 billion litres by 2018.
So the Irish Green Party wants an Irish solution by being anti-science in stunting Ireland's food potential, while being pro-science by jumping on the renewables bandwagon. Would these well-off people such as Green leader Gormley, and Ryan, tell those who suffer the impact of climate change, to go and eat cake, rather than use remedies provided by biotechnology?