NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Starvation is the Issue -- Not Biotechnology

January 22, 2003

Nobel Peace Prize laureate and biotechnologist Norman Borlaug warns that Third World nations -- especially some in Africa -- don't have the luxury of scorning the promise of genetically-modified crops. Starvation is the alternative to growing and consuming the same GM corn that millions of Americans consume daily without ill effect, he observes.

Yet some African and European leaders are courting just such a disaster through anti-GM policies.

  • Several European countries are reportedly threatening to make economic aid to developing countries contingent on whether they prohibit biotech crops.
  • Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa says he's been told by anti-biotechnology groups that donated American corn is "poison" because it contains genetically-modified kernels -- and so long as he continues to reject it, his countrymen starve.
  • Breakthroughs in GM research have reduced the need to use pesticides and herbicides in fields, produced virus-resistant bananas and potatoes and increased sweet potato yields by 30 to 50 percent -- but this progress is being held hostage by politicians and pressure groups who equate it with witchcraft.
  • Some African countries reject U.S. corn shipments to be used for food on the grounds that some of it will find its way to fields and "contaminate" local crops eventually intended for export to Europe.

But Borlaug sees that as a long way off for a continent that cannot even feed itself.

Source: Norman E. Borlaug (Texas A&M University), "Science vs. Hysteria," Wall Street Journal, January 22, 2003.


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