Skip to comments.Bill Gates vs. the Famine Lobby (The Left demonizes "Frankenfoods" while Africa starves)
Posted on 10/30/2009 5:38:44 PM PDT by FrontPageMag.com
Bill Gates took on the Famine Lobby while addressing a forum on the world food supply in Iowa. Speaking at the World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Gates took aim at the chorus of environmental leftists and organic food advocates who believe Africans should starve rather than eat genetically modified (GM) foods. Some voices are instantly hostile to any emphasis on productivity. They act as if there is no emergency, even though in the poorest, hungriest places on earth, population is growing faster than productivity, he said.
The opposition is significant, because Gates is left-of-center himself. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with assets of $29 billion as of 2005, has focused on the population side of the problem in the past, sending billions of dollars in grants to such pro-abortion groups as Planned Parenthood; Population Action International, Population Services International, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, and the Population Resource Center. Gates has also financed such organizations as the Tides Center, the Tides Foundation, the National Council of La Raza, and has supported a gun control initiative in Washington state.
However, Gates announced he will issue a $120 million grant to increase food productivity in sub-Saharan Africa through the planting of genetically modified seeds. In Des Moines, Gates cited a Stanford study from 2008 concluding African farmers will lose one-quarter of their productivity within 20 years if they continue to plant the same strains of corn. However, If the seeds perform well, African farmers can expect to produce two-million more tons of maize in a year of moderate drought. Radio Iowa reports Gates has committed more than a billion dollars in all.
Taking on the Green Left
In proposing this initiative, he is standing up to the Green Left, which has long favored environmental purity to human well-being. Greenpeace cooked up the term Frankenfood to demonize genetically modified foods a decade ago. Jeremy Rifkin called GM foods, a form of annihilation every bit as deadly as nuclear holocaust and compared their cultivation to Nazi eugenics. So successful was their campaign that many ecological groups have equated the agricultural corporation Monsanto, a leader in biotechnology, with the antichrist.
Dire predictions aside, GM foods not only potentially increase food production but have replaced the need to spray crops with chemical pesticides, which sickened or killed Africans. Those farmers who spray can now streamline the process, saving them much time and money. The modified crops are more resistant to cold, drought, herbicides, pests, and disease. They also supplied nutritional gaps in the consumption patterns of the poor. For instance, so-called golden rice spliced Vitamin A into rice, which could stave off blindness among the worlds poor who eat little more than rice. (Giving credit where credits due, golden rice was developed with aid from the Rockefeller Foundation.)
The Nazi concerns floated by the Green Left have proven more theoretical than actual. Greenpeace has long claimed GM foods increase allergies; however, the World Health Organization hardly a corporate, capitalist shill concluded, No allergic effects have been found relative to GM foods currently on the market. Although six EU nations ban GM foods, Jaap Satter, a senior policy adviser at the Dutch Agriculture Ministry, has said, You cannot say anymore that there is a scientific reason to be against genetic modification. The National Research Council summed up the situation: no conceptual distinction exists between generic modification of plants and microorganisms by classical methods or by molecular techniques that modify DNA and transfer genes.
Some environmentalists seem concerned the foods will be too successful at feeding the poor. Al Gore has worried, The most lasting impact of biotechnology on the food supply may come not from something going wrong, but from all going right were far more likely to accidentally drown ourselves in a sea of excess grain. Given the environmentalist movements hatred of population best exemplified by Obama Science Czar John Holdrens justification of compulsory abortion in the United States this may be the real locus of their disdain.
So deep is the Green Lefts hatred of GM foods that even an organizations Gates founded has given genetically modified food a chilly reception. The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa was established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation in 2006 with the objective of improving agriculture in Africa. However, its leader, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, vowed in 2007: We in the alliance will not incorporate GMOs [genetically modified organisms] in our programmes. We shall work with farmers using traditional seeds.
The scare tactics and shunning of American and Euro-socialist leftists is theoretical and faulty but their mania has reaped a deadly harvest among the worlds most vulnerable people.
Let Them Eat Twigs
In 2002, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa refused to accept tons of U.S. food aid for his starving nation, because the aid contained genetically modified food (maize, specifically). Simply because my people are hungry, that is no justification to give them poison, to give them food that is intrinsically dangerous to their health, he said. The deluded president continued, I will not allow Zambians to be turned into guinea pigs no matter the levels of hunger in the country.
The levels of hunger were staggering. Nearly one-third of Zambias 10 million people faced famine. Some 14 million Africans faced starvation region-wide. Nonetheless, the president privately upbraided officials in the UN World Food Programme for distributing GM foods, which fed 125,000 people in five camps. The WFP reported some impoverished Zambians resorted to eating little more than twigs and ash from the fire in a brown soupy concoction. Desperate, rural villagers broke into the palace where the stockpiles were rotting and stole 2,000 bags of maize.
In response, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg in 2002, signed a statement of solidarity with Zambia. Charlie Kronick of Greenpeace went further, alleging the humanitarian aid constituted a sick capitalist ploy. There is a constant drip of pressure from the U.S. government and biotech industry to make sure Africa is softened up for GM, he theorized. Europe is closed to them and they need a market for it.
Others offered more than ideological support. Zimbabwe joined the boycott, preventing GM grains importation. Angola followed suit in 2004. Lesotho and Mozambique milled all such grain so it would not be planted and infect other crops.
Not all were limited to the EU and Africa. In 2004, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez passed possibly the most sweeping restrictions on transgenic crops in the western hemisphere.
At home, the opposition has been remarkably well-heeled. National Reviews Deroy Murdock found:
In 2001, the 30 leading anti-biotech groups spent $341.4 million, including Greenpeace USAs expenditure of $23,748,737, Environmental Defense’s $38,794,150 and the Natural Resources Defense Council’s $41,625,882. Between 1996 and 2001, this crusade’s lavish underwriters included the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($11,906,500), the Ford Foundation ($39,978,020) and the Pew Charitable Trusts ($130,996,900).
It also included a large portion of the organic food market. Somehow, this story of an industry trying to spike a competitor did not make MSNBC or the pages of Mother Jones.
Whatever the dangers, the prohibition of GM foods is a moral issue. As Velasio De Paolis of the Pontifical Urban University has said, it is easy to say no to GM food if your stomach is full. However misled he is on other issues, Bill Gates deserves credit for standing up against the Green Left on this point.
The question remains, will he do so on the issue that seems closest to his heart: the eradication of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa? In a recent speech on the topic Gates admitted, two tools helped to bring the death rate down: One was killing the mosquitoes with DDT. Before Rachel Carsons crusade based entirely on scientific theories that never panned out DDT use had nearly eradicated malaria. Now, according to one report, there are approximately 350 to 500 millions cases of malaria, killing close to one million people annually. Every day, malaria takes the lives of 2,000 children in Africa alone. Yet instead of backing DDT use, Gates has sought to find a vaccine.
If Gates truly wants to put the well-being of Africans above political correctness, DDT is the best place to start.
Gates is a very single minded geek. It would be marvelous if he targets this hooey for destruction.
Bill Gates does put his money where his month is unlike most of the left.
Wouldn’t it be a hoot if Linus Torvalds joined in too :-)
Bill Gates kinda does have enough money to bankroll his own food and aid airdrops into Africa...
But the left doesn’t care about actual people actually starving.
They don’t much care if they are machetied to death either.
There are larger concerns.
If he'd bothered reading some of the better anti-Communist literature of the 1940s and 1950s written by ex-Commies he'd already known this.
Man's wasted 3/4 of his life on a foolish quest.
You mean people at Free Republic cannot recognize black propaganda. Not only are GMO’s untested there is no procedure for them to be tested. We are losing plant diversity while six corporations control world food production. The response to this garbage is abysmal.
I think these HIV ridden, overpopulating people need to be sterilized as a result of accepting our aid. NO FORCED STERILIZATION, but voluntary if they want our food. They have no business breeding if they can’t even feed themselves. Survival of the fittest - only the strongest of people further their genes into the human future. Oh, and for anybody who say I say this because they’re Africans, I say the same for any population who - for centuries - have starved, warred with won another, and have been led by losers and have done nothing with one of the most naturally eco-rich continent on earth.
Gates is a bright enough guy but politically retarded.
A few years ago he was rudely shocked at an AIDS gathering when, after suggesting that maybe the native rabbits should be encouraged to cut down on their indiscrimante screwing, he was howled down by the feral copuloids of the Leftwing F*ck-factories.
He shoulda' known better. Then and now.
parsy, who thinks Frankenfood is an appropriate term
Bill Gates proposed something that made SENSE! GAK!
If keeping the “genetic diversity” (non human introduced, that is) means to starve the Africans, why let’s starve the Africans!
(...somehow they forgot that the old hybrid grain seeds are also genetically modified, just in a more traditional low-tech way.)
Remember reading only a few weeks back (iowahawk?) about the recent demise of an old Iowan farmer who had toiled for decades to bring third world farms up to first world production capacities (not to mention helping first world operations improve). GM was unknown then, but this did not deter him. GM is no magic wand promising naught but good, but if it helps the breeding process achieve its goals more easily, I am certainly not standing ready with boos and hisses.
For some in the Green Left, starving the Africans is the bottom line. They consider “overpopulation” the greatest threat facing the world, so if something “culls the surplus population,” it’s good in their eyes. Gates has funded population groups — but he is a heretic from the Green religion on this.
I will go half way there with ya! It is of great concern that such a small number of corporations do indeed control so much of food production. Monsanto is no corporate saint and they have been known to go after farmers who do not do what they tell them to.
There are however seed banks popping up all over the world but like one poster said there are not a lot of original seeds left that have not been changed by ‘normal’ breeding methods.
GM foods are widely tested - on humans all over the world! Another 30 years and we should see any negative results start to tally up.
If I was a poor African I would rather eat and I wouldn’t care where it came from or who made it!
Which would put whatever farmers who are still in business out of business. The solution for Africa needs to come from within Africa. Outsiders could help with wells and infrustructure and in country education in peaceful countries and sell them things when they have money. Africa would be much better off without all the meddling.
If I had a child, I’d sure rather have him die of cancer at 80 than starvation at 8.
Truly, truly if they forced us to go back to heirloom seeds we’d be much less healthy and many more would be starving. Just the changes that hybridization has brought has increased yields much less genetically modified.
The only crop I really know about with the GM is cotton, the yields are doubled or more.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.