Charles's fantasy farming won't feed Africa's poor
A return to organic peasantry will feed only affluent angst. To take on global hunger, genetic modification is crucial
Friday August 22 2008
In response to 19th-century industrialisation the British aristocracy rediscovered medieval chivalry. The romantic fashion was in part comic: jousts, castles and armour. But it had darker consequences; the privileging of honour over intelligence, which became the bedrock vision of the English gentleman, had its apotheosis in the heroic stupidities of the first world war.
Now, in response to modern agriculture, the aristocracy, with Prince Charles in the vanguard, has rediscovered organic peasant farming. Again it has its comic side: organic peasant produce is a luxury - you will find Duchy Originals, the prince's crested brand, in the better supermarkets; and the lifestyle is for sale in his attractive model village of Poundbury. But my concern is its darker consequences. Organic peasant agriculture is a solution for the angst of affluence, but not hunger. Its apotheosis is the ban on GM crops. Read More
The potential for genetically modified crops to improve the human condition, in several ways, is very real. Not only can we produce more food with less land, labor and inputs, but we can also make that food healthier for areas of the world that are deficient in key nutrients. For those of us in this world that aren’t wondering if we will have anything to eat tomorrow, it’s easy to say no to these technologies. But, for those who are hungry, they would much rather have food from GM crops to eat than no food at all, and it is selfish of the rest of us to deny that option for them.