The True Deservers of a Food Prize

If Secretary of State John Kerry’s G.M.O.-boosting speechannouncing the World Food Prize at the State Department last week is any indication of his ability to parse complicated issues, he might be better off windsurfing. Because Kerry appears to have bought into the big ag-driven myth that only by relying on genetic engineering will we be able to feed the nine billion citizens of our planet by 2050. And he enthusiastically endorsed granting this mockery of a prize to three biotech engineers, including Robert Fraley, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Monsanto and a pioneer of genetic engineering in agriculture.

Never mind that Monsanto is a sponsor of the prize (and that the list of other backers reads like a who’s who of big ag and big food), or that we never get to know the names of either the nominees or the nominators. [1] Never mind that we’re not feeding the seven billion now, or that we’re sickening a billion of those with a never-before-seen form of malnourishment. Never mind that we already grow enough food to feed not only everyone on the planet but everyone who’s going to be born in the next 30 or 40 years. And never mind that, despite the hype, there’s scant evidence that the involvement of genetic engineering in agriculture has done much to boost yields, reduce the use of chemicals or improve the food supply.

Read the rest of this column, here.

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2 Comments

  1. Drew Palmer said...

    I do not believe that the World Health Organization, the African Union Ministry for Health and Iowa State University among many others are all incorrect in stating that historic food production could support as most 1 billion people, not 7 (or 9).

    Your numbers work if everyone is vegetarian, but the growth in human brains over the last 200,000 years was only possible by learning to harvest and cook meat to increase nutrient density.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t improve our technologies or reduce our birthrates, but for now, every time you buy organic food you should look around and wonder which 6 out of 7 people you think should die.

  2. India Tour said...

    To be fair, there are very few proven methods of increasing yields per unit area. We tried using chemical fertilizers and insecticides, but they cause more trouble than they are worth. People need to take a look at the age old traditional organic farming methods to increase productivity without poisoning the environment.

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