Morsel combat: the Listener on genetic modification

The Listener out this weekend, features an interview with Dr Nina Fedoroff, who was in the country last week talking agricultural science and genetic modification and covers the other side of the GM argument with Green MP Sue Kedgley also featured.

It is worth a read, particularly the interesting side bar by writer David Lomas which points out that Kiwis are already eating GM food mostly without their knowledge but that GM isn’t really in demand here because we are not big producers of commodity crops like rice, corn and soy.

Sarah Barnett’s main piece expands on Fedoroff’s assertion that attitudes to GM food are changing:

The New Zealand Listener, Jan 30 2010
The New Zealand Listener, Jan 30 2010

I’m currently two-thirds into an exceptionally good book called Enough, which examines the causes of famine and food shortages in Africa and which is written by a couple of Wall Street Journal reporters.

I haven’t even got to discussion of genetically modified crops yet, but the overall impression so far is that the US and Europe, with lavish protectionism of its farmers, haphazard approaches to food aid and mixing of humanitarian assistance with geopolitical objectives has done the African continent considerable harm over the past few decades, while at the same time teaching African nations new farming techniques and shipping excess supplies of grain to feed Africans when crop fails.

It seems a large amount of the suffering and starvation endured by African nations could have been avoided had the Western world been more genuine about its efforts to really help Africa, rather than being seen to do so.With that sort of track record, you can understand why there’s a good deal of cynicism that GM crop technology, developed by the West, is the answer to hunger in Africa in the face of climate change – generated largely by those of us in rich countries.

I’ll post a full review of Enough in the next few days.

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