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Saving Lives Through Science

Norman Borlaug’s Green Revolution of the 1960s created “extra food [that] saved perhaps a billion people from starving.” And now, Borlaug says genetic improvement technology can help the world “produce nearly three times as much food for the more populous and more prosperous world of 2050.”

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Borlaug says high-yield biotech farming protects the environment by “saving millions of acres of wildlands” from being cleared. “If the world were still getting the low crop and livestock yields of 1950, at least half of today’s 16 million square miles of global forest would already have been plowed down, and the rest would be scheduled for destruction in the next three decades,” he writes.

Borlaug blasts “traditional seeds and the organic farming systems that some call ‘sustainable'” for causing great damage to Africa, which “desperately needs the simple, effective high-yield farming systems that have made the First World’s food supply safe and secure, and kept its wild species from extinction: chemical fertilizers, improved seeds bred for local conditions, and integrated pest management (with pesticides). Without those basics, Africa is likely to see tens of millions more undernourished children by 2020.”

The International Chamber of Commerce has declared that “genetically modified crops and livestock could be lifesavers for developing countries saddled with burgeoning populations and poverty,” The Denver Post reports. And “representatives of developing countries such as India and Kenya said they see bioengineered crops and livestock as crucial to increasing economic sustainability and fighting disease in the Third World.”

So who is opposed to such helpful technology? “Protesters [who] have fanned the flames of mistrust of genetically modified foods through a campaign of misinformation,” according to Kenyan plant pathologist Florence Wambugu.

She has written: “They can buy their food in supermarkets… They can choose the more expensive organic foods, or even imported foods. They can eat fresh, frozen or canned produce. Then, from their world of plenty, they tell us what we can and cannot feed our children… These people and organizations have become adept at playing on the media’s appetite for controversy to draw attention to their cause. But the real victim in this controversy is the truth.”

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