Greenpeace Activists Engage in Ecoterrorism


Greenpeace Activists Engage in Ecoterrorism


Posted 18 July 2011, by John Monaghan, Somewhat Reasonable (The Heartland Institute),

On July 14, Greenpeace activists in Australia illegally entered an experimental farm operated by the country’s national science agency and destroyed a crop of genetically modified (“GM”) wheat. The GM wheat was altered to enhance its nutritional value for addressing obesity and bowel cancer. Because of the incident, scheduled human trials will have to be delayed by as long as a year.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific has trumpeted the actions of the individuals and posted videos and photos of the event on their website. One of the activists, whose name the organization released, has said that Greenpeace will stand beside her throughout any criminal investigation and prosecution.

This could place Greenpeace in unsavory legal territory. According, to one legal scholar interviewed by COSMOS (an Australian science magazine) the activists’ actions could be prosecuted under federal terrorism laws:

“[Ben Saul, a professor of counter-terrorism law at the University of Sydney] says it technically fits the bill of a terrorist act, which under Australian law, is defined as an act of criminal violence intended to coerce the government for an ideological purpose. “This was ideologically motivated, you could argue it was done to coerce the government to change its policy on genetically modified foods, and it was violent in that it destroyed private property,” he said.”

Saul discounts the likelihood that prosecution would occur under any such statute, deeming the action “a protest in a democratic society.”

It is disconcerting to think that an act of vandalism that derails a government-sanctioned research project to further political goals meets Saul’s assessment as simply a protest. Physical assault on scientific research has no place in a civil society and the actors in this case should be held fully responsible for their actions under the law.

Such actions should not be sanctioned or heralded by any organization that seeks to have a legitimate voice in policy discussions and in doing so Greenpeace has further deteriorated any credibility it still had remaining with the public.


John Monaghan: John Monaghan joined The Heartland Institute in June 2011 as Heartland’s energy and environment legislative specialist. John graduated with honors from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 2009 with an environmental studies degree where he specialized in business, law, and the environment. His studies involved extensive fieldwork researching marine protected areas in the Turks and Caicos, freshwater ecosystems in Northern Michigan, hydropower development in Chile, and climate change in the Norwegian arctic. During his final semester at the University he taught a course on pop culture and environmental thought. Upon graduation, John spent two years at the Department of Justice in the Wildlife and Marine Resources Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. While there, he provided legal support on issues related to endangered species listing and critical habitat designations, sustainable fisheries, and the intersection of these issues with development. John was born and raised in metro Detroit.



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