GM Crops – Another View

NOTE: Our apologies for the infrequency of recent postings. Barb and Al have been on what the Times would call “book leave.” The resulting works will appear in coming months and, we’re confident, will be favorably reviewed – at least here on The Horse.


Two months ago, environmentalists in the Philippines vandalized a field of Golden Rice – a grain whose genes have been modified to carry beta carotene. It’s a public project. No corporation is behind the experiment, and the seeds will be given out free to farmers, intended to improve the health of children in poor countries

At about the same time, a study purporting to show tumors in rats that had eaten a GM maize was thoroughly discredited, then withdrawn by the journal that had published it – even as Russia and Kenya banned GM crops and the French said they would press for a European ban, partly based on the flawed study.

Prompted by such developments, earlier this month The Economist cried foul. A few excerpts:


“One of he biggest challenges facing mankind is to feed the 9 to 10 billion people who will be alive and (hopefully) richer in 2050. This will require doubling food production on roughly the same area of land, using less water and fewer chemicals …

“Organic farming … cannot meet this challenge. If the green revolution had never happened, and yields had stayed at 1960 levels, the world could not produce its current food output even if it ploughed up every last acre of cultivatable land.”


“In contrast, GM crops boost yields, protecting wild habitat from the plough. They are more resistant to the vagaries of climate change, and to diseases and pests, reducing the need for agrochemicals. “


“Some developing countries – Kenya, India and others – have turned their backs on technologies that could literally save their peoples’ lives. And European governments spend taxpayers’ money financing groups encouraging them to do so. The group in the Philippines that trashed the rice trials gets money from the Swedish government.”


“In the field of climate change, environmentalists insist that the scientific consensus should frame policy. They should follow that principle with GM crops, and abandon a campaign that impoverishes people and the rest of the planet.”

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Editors of The Horse You Rode In On (listed below) hail from Boston, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. All contributions are signed. When guest contributors are included, their comments will be signed in a manner consistent with their needs for discretion, witness protection, or yearning for personal adulation.