International environmental group Greenpeace came under scrutiny late Wednesday after India’s spy agency leaked a report to the media that claimed Greenpeace's opposition to several development projects, including nuclear and coal plants, would reduce India’s economic growth by 2 to 3 percent per year.
Although the claim is significant as it comes from a high-level Indian government agency, it’s far from the first time Greenpeace has been accused of hurting more than helping some of the developing nations where it operates.
Greenpeace fundraises in each country in which it works (Greenpeace India is more than 60 percent funded by Indians, according to the organization), but notable chunks of funding for Greenpeace affiliates in developing countries come from Western donors. According to the leaked report, the U.S. donates about $38 million annually to Greenpeace India.
That’s got the Indian government worried because it claims the organization is manufacturing grassroots opposition to projects that might otherwise encounter no obstacles to accomplish Western-influenced environmental policy. Greenpeace has a uniform agenda across the world to stop climate change, cut nuclear and coal use and prevent genetically altered agriculture.
For example, Greenpeace has allegedly staged anti-nuclear rallies near the Kudankulam nuclear plant in India -- and protests near other industrial and hydroelectric projects -- by paying labor union members to protest. The leaked report claims the money attracts many who that don’t know what they are protesting about, Rediff.com first reported.
Here are three reasons India may be right to worry:
1. Greenpeace has opposed several nuclear and hydroelectric dam projects that would reduce carbon emissions and could reduce power prices, the latest in Chile. Chilean cabinet ministers revoked approval of the HidroAysen mega dam on Tuesday, citing insufficient research into the environmental impact of the proposed five dams, the Santiago Times reported. Politicians have expressed concern over the country’s energy capacity, and advocates claim the project would generate up to 20 percent of Chile’s energy needs and lower energy bills, which are currently among the highest in South America.
2. Since the 1990s, Greenpeace has pioneered an anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) movement and has celebrated other governments’ rejections or delays of field trials of genetically engineered crops, particularly of the wheat variety. In July 2011, hazmat suit-wearing Greenpeace activists trespassed onto a field of GMO wheat that was part of a test by Australia’s national science agency and destroyed the crops, a criminal activity. The protesters filmed themselves weed-whacking the wheat crops and posted the video on YouTube.
Agricultural companies say their scientists genetically alter wheat to increase its nutritional content and increase resistance to droughts and plant diseases, in hopes of improving global food security in a market of rising food prices. Wheat is a major source of energy and protein for much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Northern Africa and Asia, regions with large swaths of poverty.
Genetically-altered crops “harm the environment and have a potential to risk human health,” Greenpeace states online. Taking the opposite view, a European Commission 2010 study stated that: “The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than … conventional plant breeding technologies.”
3. Greenpeace’s cofounder, Patrick Moore, has voiced strong opposition to most of the organization’s policies. He believes that “to a considerable extent, the environmental movement was hijacked by political and social activists who learned to use green language to cloak agendas that had more to do with anticapitalism and antiglobalization than with science or ecology.”
“A lot of environmentalists … idealize poverty, seeing it as a noble way of life, and oppose all large developments. James Cameron, the multimillionaire producer of the most lucrative movie in history, 'Avatar,' paints his face and joins the disaffected to protest a hydroelectric dam in the Amazon. Who needs lights and newfangled electric gadgets anyway?” Moore wrote in his book, 'Confessions of Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist.'