Last week, Bjorn Lomborg, the widely published Danish professor and director of one of the world's leading environmental think tanks, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, published an article about the Philippines' decision, after 12 years, to allow genetically modified (GM) rice -- "golden rice" -- to be grown and consumed in that country.
The reason for the delay was environmentalist opposition to GM rice; and the reason for the change in Philippine policy was that 4.4 million Filipino children suffer from vitamin A deficiency. That deficiency, Lomborg writes, "according to the World Health Organization, causes 250,000 to 500,000 children to go blind each year. Of these, half die within a year."
During the 12-year delay, Lomborg continues, "About eight million children worldwide died from vitamin A deficiency."
"Golden rice" contains vitamin A, making it by far the most effective and cheapest way to get vitamin A into Third World children.
So who would oppose something that could save millions of children's lives and millions of other children from blindness?
The answer is people who are more devoted to nature than to human life.
And who might such people be?
They are called environmentalists.
These are the people who coerced nations worldwide into banning DDT. It is generally estimated this ban has led to the deaths of about 50 million human beings, overwhelmingly African children, from malaria. DDT kills the mosquito that spreads malaria to human beings.
US News and World Report writer Carrie Lukas reported in 2010, "Fortunately, in September 2006, the World Health Organization announced a change in policy: It now recommends DDT for indoor use to fight malaria. The organization's Dr. Anarfi Asamoa-Baah explained, 'The scientific and programmatic evidence clearly supports this reassessment. Indoor residual spraying (IRS) is useful to quickly reduce the number of infections caused by malaria-carrying mosquitoes. IRS has proven to be just as cost effective as other malaria prevention measures and DDT presents no health risk when used properly.'"
Though Lukas blames environmentalists for tens of millions of deaths, she nevertheless describes environmentalists as "undoubtedly well-intentioned."
I offer two assessments of this judgment.
First, in life it is almost always irrelevant whether or not an individual or a movement is well intentioned. It is difficult to name a movement that has committed great evil whose members woke up each day asking, "What evil can I commit today?" Nearly all of them think they're well intentioned. Good intentions don't mean a thing.