“Over-emotional,” “fact-light,” “uber-yuppie”—the all-organic movement has encountered some major opposition in the last several months. With no end in sight to global food shortages, the opposition to genetically modified (GM) foods is having a harder and harder time making its case against technological advancements in agriculture. As these naturalists cling to a “Frankenfood” yuck factor, a flood of international experts have been arguing that more research on GM foods is an inevitable part of addressing the challenges of world food production. Today, former British chief scientist Sir David King is the latest to join the list.
The organic movement has established itself as a trusty source of feel-good foods in the United States and Europe – last weekend’s Slow Food festival in San Francisco being the latest example of its popularity. While many of these foodies are driven by their affinity for microgreen salads, goat cheese croutons, and biodynamic cabernet sauvignon, others are demanding a gourmet revolution on a global scale. As King told reporters earlier today, it is this aggressive push for a return to primitive agricultural practices that has caused disaster for African agriculture:
“The Western world 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 devastating consequences.” …
“Suffering within that continent is largely driven by attitudes in the West which are anti-science and anti-technology. They are against the use of GM technology, which could develop plants for crops which can deal with increased salinity in the water, flooding for rice crops and drought resistance.”
King’s comments come on the heels of last month’s outburst from Prince Charles of Wales, a good example of the kind of “anti-science” attitude hinted at above:
[Prince Charles] accused firms of conducting a “gigantic experiment I think with nature and the whole of humanity which has gone seriously wrong.”
“Why else are we facing all these challenges, climate change and everything?”
Relying on “gigantic corporations” for food, he said, would result in “absolute disaster.”
“That would be the absolute destruction of everything… and the classic way of ensuring there is no food in the future…
And if they think its somehow going to work because they are going to have one form of clever genetic engineering after another then again count me out, because that will be guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time.”
This mad ranting about why the modern Western diet is to blame for all of the word’s problems is sadly familiar. But as King and other technology advocates continue to argue, the world’s population cannot feed itself on fantasy farming. Paying a little extra for organic tomatoes is one thing. Scaring African farmers away from modern technology is quite another.