Sunday, April 24, 2011

Food for all

I have just watched a video of someone called Sir John Beddington, who is apparently Britain's chief science adviser, telling us how the food system is failing - all because of climate change ( Doom and starvation face the world unless we go low carbon without delay.

To get the nasty taste out of your mouth, it helps to read April 2011 Scientific American, with an interview with Roger Beachy, one of the scientists behind genetic modification of foods. His first success was making tomatoes resistant to the tomato mosaic virus. He tells of the glee as he tended his crops, and the resistant strain flourished even as the original died. Today, over 80% of US maize and 90% of its cotton and soya are 'GM'.

Beachy now heads the US National Institute of Food and Agriculture. He has forthright answers to those who complain about Frankenfoods. Pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer use is down, and soil loss is reduced because non-till agriculture is possible. Crop yields are up, and food prices have fallen and would fall further if it were not for occasional forays into biofuels. GM crops are more sustainable than trad crops.

True, there has been a successful law case against GM beetroot in the US. But it was brought by some 'organic' farmers who feared they would no longer be able to charge a premium if there were any spread of the genes into their products. So this had nothing to do with food safety, and everything to do with food marketing.

A final mouthwash is provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, whose data show clearly that food supplies are rising faster than population, and that the rise is faster in developing countries than in developed.

So yet again the climate scare is being invoked as a cause for action. I think the time has come to say we have had enough of that particular lie.

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