ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

MOORE disinformation

'They are at it again, those who are out to discredit Greenpeace and other environmental NGOs.'

Less than a week after Marit Stinus-Remonde gave this warning in the Manila Times about 'Greenpeace bashers' and the campaign of industry 'black propaganda' raging in the Phillipines, up popped an opinion piece in the very same paper that began:

'THERE is trouble in the house of the environmental group, Greenpeace'

Manolo Jara's article continued:

'Dr. Patrick Moore, an ecologist and co-founder of Greenpeace, has let loose a barrage against the group for its firm stance against transgenic crops or genetically modified organisms (GMOs)...'

There's much Moore of the same:

'Moore recently joined over 3,000 scientists all over the world in signing a Declaration in Support of Agricultural Biotechnology in Auburn, Alabama. The declaration assailed the "campaign of fear now being waged against genetic modification (which) is based largely on fantasy and a complete lack of respect for science and logic..." '

Strong words, indeed, which Moore has supported and which appears to indicate that he has now completely turned his back on the activist organization, which he helped establish. He recently broke away from the group, accusing it of abandoning science and following agendas that have little to do with saving the Earth...'

Other articles recounting Moore's support for GMOs and criticism of Greenpeace have also recently appeared in the Thai and Bangladeshi press.

A flurry of such pro-GM/anti-Greenpeace publicity centering on Moore, was originally prompted by Moore's appearance at the Royal Commission on
Genetic Modification in New Zealand, after Moore was flown in by the biotech industry as one of its expert witnesses.

"There are so many real benefits from genetic modification...", Moore told the Commission, but he ran into some difficult questions as to what exactly had qualified him to appear as an expert on genetic modification. Moore proferred:

"I have.. recently had a full tour of the Monsanto labs in St Louis for example. I have also been briefed thoroughly by the people in Novartis in Basel Switzerland..."

The reason why industry had gone to such trouble, of course, was the Greenpeace connection.

After his Commission appearance, Moore signed up to C.S. Prakash's Declaration in Support of Agricultural Biotechnology. Prakash subsequently circulated a press release playing up Moore's Greenpeace connection and criticisms, plus his support for Golden Rice.

The press release, titled "GREENPEACE FOUNDER SUPPORTS BIOTECHNOLOGY: Moore Criticizes Colleagues for Opposing Golden Rice", came soon after
Greenpeace released a letter from Gordon Conway in which he agreed with Greenpeace's contention that Golden Rice has been massively hyped by
industry. The timing of the press release suggests it was intended to undermine such criticism. Similarly, the recent upsurge in the disinformation campaign aimed at environmental NGOs in the Phillipines co-ordinates exactly with the arrival in the country of Golden Rice.

The Manila Times article, quoted from above, is in parts an almost word for word recapitulation of the Prakash press release which states, for instance:

"Recently, however, [Moore] broke with Greenpeace, accusing it of abandoning science and following agendas that have little to do with saving the Earth."

In fact, Prakash's claim of a recent Moore-Greenpeace connection is completely bogus. Moore actually left Greenpeace back in 1984/85, ie he hasn't worked with any of the supposed "colleagues" he's said to be criticising for the past 16 years or more! Who broke with who, is also open to question. According to Greenpeace's Tamara Stark, Moore's exit was "not necessarily by his own choice".

The bogus nature of his recent Greenpeace past, raises a further question: if Moore, who Prakash and the biotech industry clearly mean to be seen as a leading environmentalist, has not been working with Greenpeace for more than a decade and a half, what has he been doing?

Prakash's press release describes Moore as simply "an environmental consultant". After he left Greenpeace in '84/'85, however, Moore initially pursued a somewhat curious career for an environmentalist. He set up a fish farm. It was only after this business venture failed and Moore got into serious financial trouble, that Moore established an environmental consulting firm (Greenspirit, formed in 1991). The firm's consultancy has, apparently, not been without controversy.

But there is a still more relevant aspect of Moore's background that Prakash fails to mention. At around the same time that Moore set up Greenspirit, he also became a full-time paid director and consultant, and a main spokesperson, for the British Columbia Forest Alliance. The Alliance, it turns out, although presented as a "citizens group", has a budget of around C$2m derived mostly from the forest industry and its 170 or so corporate members.

This industry-funded pressure group was the brain child of the anti-environmental PR multinational, Burson-Marsteller. B-M even put in one of its own employees as Executive Director, as well as handpicking many of the Alliance's board. B-M was forced to withdraw from the Alliance in a welter of bad publicity, but the Alliance has continued to be used, as intended, as the British Columbian forest industry's PR weapon against Greenpeace and other environmental groups, using TV ads and other campaigns to undermine and discredit them.

In one Canadian television ad for the Alliance, aired in September 1994, Patrick Moore stated "even the chief conservation biologist with the World Wide Fund for Nature in Europe, which is the leading mainstream environmental group, agrees that clear-cutting is necessary in some cases and is the best method in some cases."

Moore went on to claim that campaigning against clear-cutting of forests (as Greenpeace does) is an advertising gimmick for "fundraising purposes" and "has no basis whatsoever in science." Moore concluded, "I believe they have thrown truth out of the window on this one. They simply seem unwilling to listen to science on their whole forestry campaign."

Moore's claims provoked a furious response from Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud, head of the forest programme of World Wide Fund for Nature International, who accused Moore of "grossly misrepresenting" WWF's position on clearcutting, something WWF "deplored".

Jeanrenaud also went on to note that this was not the first time the Forest Alliance had, "selectively quoted, distorted and misrepresented statements by representatives from WWF". Jeanrenaud further pointed out that the "chief conservation biologist with the World Wide Fund for Nature in Europe", whose support Moore had claimed, did "not even exist".

Moore's other attacks on environmental groups have often been of an extreme character, claiming for example that they are riddled with communists, that they have 'anti-human','anti-democratic' and 'anti-civilization' attitudes, and that they are guided by a mixture of 'pagan beliefs' and 'junk science'. In his defence of GMOs, Moore regurgiatates exactly the same rhetoric that he developed over a decade of support for the timber industry. He tells Prakash:

"Environmental extremists have been toying with anti-science, anti-humanitarian, and anti-intellectual policies for some time now. In this case it is not merely a case of mischief or "fair comment". This kind of witch-hunt can lead to the kinds of policies enforced by Lysenko under Stalin."

Moore has, however, been far more charitable about his more recent associates. Dismissing concern about Burson-Marsteller's alleged PR work on behalf of the Argentinian generals at the time of the death squads, Moore told the Canadian press, "people get killed everywhere".

Moore's anti-green rhetoric has played well with the timber industry. In 1994 the TIMBER TRADES JOURNAL reported a Greenpeace-bashing speech of
Moore's as the "highlight of the Canadian Lumbermen's Association convention in Montreal".

The environmental group Forest Action Network became so exasperated with Moore's attacks and misinformation that they gave him his own website from where you can order T-shirts bearing the message: "Patrick Moore is a big fat liar":

It contains the following comments from some of those who have had dealings with him:

"Judas Iscariot had the decency to hang himself after betraying Jesus.
Moore...can't even be persuaded to shut his mouth."
Paul Luke, Business Reporter, The Province Newspaper, BC

"Dr. Patrick Moore... is presently paid by the timber industry to
deliberately mislead the public and politicians about the acceptability
of aggressive logging practices."
Dr Leonie Jacobs, University of Utrecht in the Netherlands

"He habitually ignores the worst aspects of logging in his zeal to
promote industry. It's difficult to say anything good about him"
Paul George, Director, Western Canada Wilderness Committee

"Patrick Moore has gone from being the guard dog of the environment to
the lap dog of industry"
Tzeporah Berman, Greenpeace International

"I have read Patrick's book, Pacific Spirit. It is not the work of a
'forest ecologist' but a disappointing blend of pseudo-science and
dubious assumptions being used to defend clearcutting and the forest industry."
Monte Hummel MScF, President, WWF Canada

"Personally, each time I read something by this megalomaniacal crackpot
I get the urge to hurl. Now he's peddling his propaganda and lies in the
United States."
Chris Genovali, Western Canada Wilderness Committee

"He's one of those guys I knew I couldn't trust from the first second I
shook hands with him. I mean that literally."
Dick Dillman, Greenpeace San Francisco

"He is nothing more than an apologist for the timber industry"
Gavin Edwards, Forest Action Network

"When asked why he started a fish farm, Patrick replied:'To make money'"
Jonathan Mayer, Fish Biologist and former employee of Patrick Moore

"He's taken a job schlepping for the stumpmakers"
Bob Hunter, Co-founder of Greenpeace and City TV reporter

The story of Moore's support for GMOs, then, turns out NOT to be, as advertised, that of a leading environmentalist who has suddenly turned his back on his Greenpeace colleagues due to his adherence to science, logic and GMOs, but that of a man trading on a now distant Greenpeace past who has a proven track record of misinformation on behalf of an environmentally-damaging industry -- in short, a perhaps not unsurprising defender of the interests of boardrooms in St Louis and Basel, Switzerland.

For more on Moore see:
and Andy Rowel's book, 'Green Backlash', Routledge 1996 (particularly ch. 7)