Jeremy Rifkin is President of the Foundation
on Economic Trends, President of the Greenhouse Crisis Foundation
and head of the Beyond Beef Coalition. Critics of Rifkin have
labeled him "anti-science" and a "professional
activist." Indeed, Rifkin seems to have substantial experience
as a political activist. During the 1960s and 1970s, he joined
the peace movement, serving as the organizer of the 1968 March
on the Pentagon and founder of the Citizens Commission (1969),
a group established to bring public attention to alleged U.S.
war crimes in Vietnam. In 1971, Rifkin established the counter-cultural
People's Bicentennial Commission to provide an alternative to
official U.S. government plans to celebrate the bicentennial.
By the late 1970s, Rifkin focus shifted to the fledgling biotechnology industry. Although Rifkin possesses no formal training in the sciences, he nonetheless speaks out against biotechnology, the genetic research that could offer cures to diseases such as Sickle Cell Anemia, Alzheimer's and others and has already made possible the development of heartier, more disease-resistant agricultural crops. Rifkin apparently fears that without strict government controls, biotechnology would allow scientists to "play God" and result in Nazi-type attempts to create a master race.
Among the advances offered through biotechnology Rifkin has opposed is Frostban, a synthetic microbe that helps protect plants from frost. He also opposed the production of oil-eating bacteria, used in oil spill clean-ups, fearing the organisms could become renegades, multiplying and causing environmental damage. Both Frostban and the oil-eating bacteria have been found to be harmless.
Jeremy Rifkin's newest crusade has been against the beef industry. Through his Beyond Beef Coalition, Rifkin hopes to reduce beef consumption by 50% by the turn of the Century. His reason? Cattle release methane into the atmosphere and thus contribute to global warming. The problem with this premise is that such emissions from cows are negligible -- just 60 tons of methane per year worldwide. By contrast, fresh water contributes 5 million tons of methane per year, oceans 10 million tons and termites 40 million tons.
Selected Quotes By and About Jeremy Rifkin
"[Jeremy Rifkin's book] Algeny [is] a cleverly constructed tract of anti-intellectual propaganda masquerading as scholarship." - Dr. Stephen Jay Gould, Harvard paleontologist, in 1985 review of Rifkin's book Algeny
"Humanity seeks the elation that goes with the drive for mastery over the world. Nature offers us the sublime resignation that goes with an undifferentiated participation in the world around us." - Quoted by Ron Arnold and Alan Gottlieb in their book Trashing the Economy (1993)
"It is possible to be in favor of progress, freedom of inquiry and the advancement of consciousness and still be opposed to essential elements of the prevailing scientific and technological world view.. We stifle freedom of inquiry and undermine the great potential of human consciousness only when we steadfastly refuse to entertain new ways of re-imagining our world" - Quoted by Newsmakers 1990
Version Date: March 28, 1994