SASKATOON – Patrick Moore says biotechnology is one of the reasons farmers in Western Canada can feed more than a hundred people from a single farm. The former president of Greenpeace Canada says it’s one of the reasons he supports biotechnology, along with the use of pesticides and machinery in producing crops.
“Less than 100 years ago it took about 75 per cent of the population to grow the food for a country, and that’s still true in some African and Asian countries,” Moore told Global News.
“But here we’re growing enough food for the whole population and exporting a great deal at the same time with two to three per cent of the population. One Saskatchewan farmer is feeding 155 people today because of science and technology,” said Moore.
“That includes machinery, chemistry and genetics.”
Moore is delivering a public lecture Thursday evening at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), as part of Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan. But his path to the podium is far different than most farm speakers.
Moore joined Greenpeace in 1971, after receiving a PhD in ecology, just months after the organization was formed. He stayed with Greenpeace for 15 years, and served as president of the Canadian branch for nine years. He was on the ship Rainbow Warrior when it was bombed by the French government in 1985.
However, he left in 1986, citing differences with the philosophy of Greenpeace.
He now bills himself as a “sensible environmentalist,” and says although he is perceived very differently than he used to be, his views on most issues haven’t really changed.
“It was more a case of Greenpeace leaving me, and adopting positions that with my science background that I could not accept,” he said.
“I haven’t changed my opinion on killing whales or dumping toxic waste into the oceans, or bashing baby seals over the heads by the hundreds of thousands, I still hold all those positions very dearly that I worked on for many years.”
The one major issue he believes he initially got wrong was nuclear power.
“I think we made a big mistake in lumping nuclear energy in with nuclear weapons, instead of including it with nuclear medicine, which is a beneficial use of the technology,” he said.
“Countries around the world are adopting nuclear energy … it is safe, clean and reliable and cost effective and that is just a fact.”
And closer to home, he points to the controversy over biotechnology and pesticides like neonicotinods, which some have blamed for killing off honeybees.
“Another fact that Saskatchewan should be proud of is the fact that 80 per cent of Canada’s honey production is coming from beautiful fields of genetically modified canola,” he said.
“It’s becoming very clear that this whole worry about honey bees is not valid. The bees are surviving just fine.”
Moore’s free public lecture is Thursday night at 7 p.m. CT at the Neatby Timlin Theatre in the Arts Building on the U of S campus, on “Agriculture in a Growing World.”