Monday, December 28, 2015

Your anti GMO argument is, "We already have enough food to feed the world".

Stephan Neidenbach -

Congratulations! You would rather give a man a fish rather than teach him to fish. It is more worthwhile to teach modern farming techniques than it is to have developing nations rely on developed nations for food. Are you really the person that just said you are worried about who controls the world’s food supply? The Arctic Granny apple keeping you up at night is an example of how GMOs can directly help prevent food waste, and it isn’t even transgenic. 

GMOS ONLY HELP CORPORATIONS!!!!!!!!$$$$$!!!!!!!!!!

GMOs can be used to reduce poverty in the developing world. An independent meta-analysis from Germany (a country with a cultural fear of biotechnology) shows how GMO crop adoption in developing nations has increased crop yields by 14% more than in developed nations, “especially smallholder farmers in the tropics and subtropics suffer from considerable pest damage that can be reduced through GM crop adoption.” The report also shows that the profit gains from these crops increase profits by 60% more than in developed nations due to this increase of yield, lower pesticide usage, and because many of these countries do not have patents on seed making the seed cheaper.


I have to give Ned McFlanders some credit for making me look into that one. I also saw that great debate episode of West Wing where the topic of debt relief came up. Those foreign loans actually come mostly from foreign governments, not from private banks. Europe is a large source of that debt, and they also happen to be the ones telling Africa not to use GMOs. So good job trying to keep Africa under the thumb of their old colonial rulers, give yourself a pat on the back. History may have played out a little differently if the Monroe Doctrine had extended to Africa.

FOOD WASTE!!!!!!!!####!!!!!!!!!

Developed nations produce and consume a lot of food. So much so that a lot of it is wasted. This is a problem that we agree on. Climate change might be eased by a reduction in food waste, malnutrition and famine would probably not. True famine is only occurring in countries where food aid is being prevented from entering areas where it is needed such as North Korea where food aid from the United States is turned down. The Famine Early Warning System is now in place saving lives around the globe. Better access to agricultural technology could actually help reduce food waste, rather than increase it. Better infrastructure in developing nations would help food get to the consumers faster and increase shelf life through refrigeration. Food waste campaigns often have little impact on the developing world because they are based on food waste in rich countries. A recent report from the Copenhagen Consensus Center estimates that for every $1 spent to invest in developing world agriculture to reduce post harvest losses would return $13.


Your argument assumes it would be easy to just send our extra food to other countries. How much is Big Shipping paying you to post here?  The shipping industry has been working with the agriculture industry in the United States to keep pressure on Congress to continue shipping food produced in the United States for food aid. An estimated $140 million dollars is spent annually just to move that food aid from the United States to those countries in need. Most countries have started to use food vouchers or even cash transfers that would allow developing countries to buy food locally. That is a high cost to give fish to countries that could be learning how to fish.

You are also making an assumption that without the demand for animal feed farmers in developed nations would have a reason to just keep growing grain. What incentive would they have? Who would pay them? That argument goes against the very basics of supply and demand. Robert Paarlberg raises these excellent points in two of his books:

“If meat consumption declined, international meat and animal feed prices would also decline, but this would matter little for the vast proportion of hungry people, because they do not consume much that comes from the world market, and particularly not meat or animal feed. What these poor people need is more income to purchase rice, white maize, sorghum, millet, yams, cassava, or banana in their own local markets, not a lower international price for meat and feed. Most of the effects of lower meat consumption in rich countries would be confined to those same rich countries. Fewer cattle would be grazed on rangelands in Texas or Australia, but since these lands are too dry for growing crops, they would simply go unused. Less corn and soy would be produced for animal feed, and this would free up some more land for wheat and rice production, but the impact on international wheat and rice prices would be small. The International Food Policy Research Institute has used a computer model of global agricultural markets to estimate the reduction in hunger that would result from a 50 percent reduction in per capita meat consumption in all high-income countries, from current levels. Under this extreme and unlikely assumption, there would be 700,000 fewer chronically malnourished children in the developing world by the year 2030, compared to a “business as usual”scenario. This is a measurable gain, but very small relative to the size of the problem. Under the “business as usual”scenario, there will be 134 million cases of child malnutrition in 2030, so the payoff from a 50 percent cut in meat consumption in rich countries is only a one-half of 1 percent reduction in child hunger. Reducing meat consumption in rich countries remains an excellent idea for the purpose of improving health and moderating environmental damage in those same rich countries, but not for getting more food to the hungry.”

“If rich countries stopped eating meat, their land, no longer needed to grow grain for livestock, would not be used to feed poor Africans. Nobody would step forward to pay farmers to plant for that new purpose or pay grain companies to export for that purpose. Grain is not a natural resource; if commercial demand goes away, supply goes away. Moreover, any kind of widespread spread vegetarianism in Africa itself would be a food-security nightmare. Meat animals in Africa are not a burden on the human food system but frequently the only way to secure adequate human foods from dry grazing lands that are useless for crop production.”

The politics of food is a lot more complicated than most people realize. We truly do have the food and the technology to feed the planet without even increasing the land needed for farming. The same organizations, such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, are not just fighting GMOs. The oppose all forms of modern agriculture needed by developing nations. They fight against irrigation, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and even conventional hybrids. Organizations like The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are trying to bring the very methods developed nations are using to increase yield and help reduce poverty. Norman Borlaug, the man who saved over one billion lives, said it best:

"I now say that the world has the technology – either available or well advanced in the research pipeline – to feed on a sustainable basis a population of 10 billion people. The more pertinent question today is whether farmers and ranchers will be permitted to use this new technology? While the affluent nations can certainly afford to adopt ultra low-risk positions, and pay more for food produced by the so-called “organic” methods, the one billion chronically undernourished people of the low income, food-deficit nations cannot."
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This work by Stephan Neidenbach is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

1 comment:

  1. Your article begins with the most lame of debate tactics. Propose that the question is an ill thought out one, that is then easily rebuked. - "We already have enough food to feed the world". Personally I think it all boils down to using GMO's to fight hunger is stop gap measure that is doomed to fail for it does not address the source of the problem. World populations are increasing. If you don't address that the pressure remains. the population will continue to increase until the implementation of GMO's again cannot keep up with demand. What then? Even more radically altered crops? The very act of human spread exotic genetics out into places in the natural world where they did not occur "naturally" already has had a past fraught with disaster. At least for those who bother to notice. So, with GMO's you are commiting to a path that makes no long term sense. Dealing with population growth is a much harder and more complex issue even than altering Genes. And there is no money to be made.