Focus Point - Biotech Luddites

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Who's afraid of biotechnology? Lots of people, apparently, which is a shame.

Environmentalists in Europe and America have targeted the use of genetic engineering to produce hardier, disease-resistant crops. They have no proof the new crops are dangerous; they just don't want them on the market until they're proven not to cause harm. Think what that rule would mean to automobiles, or air bags.

But you can't prove a negative. And while we can feed the world's six billion people now, we'll need the biotechnological boost to feed the nine billion due by 2050. We could maybe double the food supply with the best current techniques; but we need to triple it. We could try so-called "organic" farming; but we'd have to turn forest and rangelands into farms, and the ecological impact would be enormous.

So we're at a crossroads: feeding people without converting more acres to croplands, or lower food supplies, and health degradation. Why are environmentalists, of all people, so eager to take us down the second path?

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, the God of politics laughs.