NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Famine by Choice

January 21, 2011

Our world should be a land of plenty.  But we're being told that global food prices are rising as supplies become increasingly tight.  Food riots in Tunisia are getting the most media attention now, but that's not the only country being affected.  Argentina's soybean harvest has been diminished by hot, dry weather, while flooding in Australia has severely hurt the wheat crop Down Under, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

Man cannot control the weather.  But famine today is as much man-made as it is a force of nature.  The African nation of Zambia, for example, declined food aid, mostly corn, from the United States in 2002, even though it was facing a famine that would affect nearly one-third of its people.  Why?  Because America was offering genetically modified food, and it was the country's policy -- based on Europe's unfounded fear of such products -- to reject it.

  • Four years later, Friends of the Earth publicly asked governments in the hungry African countries of Ghana and Sierra Leone to recall U.S. food aid that contained genetically modified rice.
  • Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa set the wrong tone in 2002 when he called the food offered to his famished nation "poison" and "intrinsically dangerous."

Given that we have the technology to grow larger crops on smaller parcels and fly fresh food around the world to where it is needed in a matter of hours, the obstructionism is inexcusable.  We need policymakers who are as advanced as today's technology, says IBD.

Source: "The Only Way to Go Green," Investor's Business Daily, January 14, 2011.

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