GMOs, Eco-Terrorists and the University of Washington
This Thursday, a group called Responsible Choices Washington will host a debate about labeling of biotechnology crops, known popularly as GMOs, at the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture. The choice of the venue is ironic.
Twelve years ago, eco-terrorists firebombed the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. The reason, as evidenced by the spray paint left behind, was opposition to the research being done on the genetics of plants.
Ironically, the eco-terrorists got it wrong and no such research was actually being done. The last firebomber was sentenced last year and the Seattle Times noted, "Waters and her conspirators planted firebombs in the office of UW professor Toby Bradshaw at the Center for Urban Horticulture because they incorrectly believed he was genetically engineering, or altering, species of trees."
Just as disturbing, however, was the response of environmental activists. Paul Kennard, who has worked with a number of local environmental groups, called the firebombers "eco-patriots" in a letter to the Seattle P-I. While praising the actions of the firebombers, he wrote "a strong argument can be made that those who unleash untested genetic engineering products into the natural world for short-term commercial gain are the real eco-terrorists." This extremist attitude is one reason environmental groups have blocked Golden Rice, a GMO that adds Vitamin A to rice and could prevent blindness, and death, for hundreds of thousands of children every year.
As they debate the science of biotechnology crops on Thursday, I hope someone will acknowledge the Center's history with GMO opponents.