Organic is no friend of Africa
Anti organic speech from Sir David King – let them eat GM.
The rise of organic farming and the rejection of GM crops in Britain and other developed countries lies at the heart of the impoverishment of Africa. So says the Government’s former chief scientist Sir David King
Sir David, who left the job at the end of last year, says anti-scientific attitudes towards modern agriculture are being exported to Africa. They are holding back a green revolution that could dramatically improve the continent’s food supply.
Speaking at the British Association’s Festival of Science in Liverpool, he criticised non-governmental organisations and the UN in his presidential speech for backing traditional farming techniques, which he says cannot provide enough food for the continent’s growing population. “The problem is that the western world’s move toward organic farming – a lifestyle choice for a community with surplus food – and against agricultural technology in general and GM in particular, has been adopted across the whole of Africa, with the exception of South Africa, with devastating consequences.”
Recently Sir David, who is now director of the Smith school of enterprise and the environment at Oxford University, said genetically modified crops could help Africa mirror the substantial increases in crop production seen in India and China. “What was demonstrated there was that modern agricultural technologies can multiply crop production per hectare by factors of seven to 10.” But traditional techniques could “not deliver the food for the burgeoning population of Africa”.
He said a recent report chaired by Professor Robert Watson, the government’s chief scientific adviser at Defra, was shortsighted. The report concluded that GM crops had only a minor part to play in eradicating world hunger. The research, based on the findings of 400 scientists, noted that food was cheaper and diets better than 40 years ago, but that while enough food was produced to feed the global population, still 800 million people went hungry.
“You cannot argue that Africa has hunger because it doesn’t have GM today,” said ProfessorWatson. “We have more food today than ever before but it isn’t getting to the right people. It’s not a food production problem, it’s a rural development problem.”
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