Genetically Modified Food Supply

I wasn’t going to write this, because I have work to do. But…. I got hit by another red car this morning. The lunacy of people who absolutely reject genetically modified food. First off, I don’t see the problem, all our food is genetically modified, we just used to do it the long slow way. I don’t think any farmer a hundred years ago would perpetuate a low yielding strain of crop over a higher yielding one. I would suspect that since Gregor Mendel a lot of people took the slow way of genetically modifying our agriculture for improvements. Seriously, that’s the whole point to putting the best racehorses out to stud while the bad ones become glue… To me, the only difference between modern genetic modification and older versions is that we are trying to preemptively modify food to avoid blights and droughts causing famines… and we are better at it.

And one more thing about GM food, it would certainly help African countries feed their own. But with Europe’s shenanigans, the global market is hostile to GM food.

‘Economist and Political scientist Robert Paarlberg of the Harvard Kennedy Center wrote a book titled “Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is being kept out of Africa.”  In it he documents how post-colonial influence from Europe has driven regulatory decisions in many African countries so that they have a European-like hesitancy about GM crops.  Many don’t even allow any field testing.  Since Africa will be the center of most global population increase over the next several decades, this projection of what Paarlberg terms “rich world preferences” is certainly at odds with Africa’s need to produce as much of its own food as possible. This is particularly unfortunate because biotech crop improvements are “scale neutral.” They work just as easily for a 2,000 acre farm in Iowa as a 1 hectare farm in Africa, and in many cases they would be offered for free.  African farmers would very much like to have that opportunity.  Europe has also reduced its investment in international agricultural research which further compounds the problem.  Europe is also very slow to approve of new biotech events for the GMO crops that it does import,  causing logistical problems in the grain trade and often interfering with the hybrids and varieties New World farmers can utilize. ‘

And again, Japan imports a lot of wheat. In fact (according to the article linked below.) Japan imports 90% of its wheat, 60% of that from the US, and they just suspended an import because they think they detected GM wheat from the US. I find it a bit ridiculous that net importers of food don’t like how us net exporters grow it.

One last thing… the doomsday scenario. One of my hobbies is sitting around (drinking bourbon) and thinking up doomsday situations. Someday, some of them may become books, but unfortunately this one is real. It has happened before and it will happen again. You see, a little known factor in the devastation caused by the Black Death in Europe in 1348 and 1350 is that it was preceded by a series of famines, including one known as the Great Famine in 1315-1317 . The black death killed somewhere around 30% of European population, the great famine before it had killed around 10%. It was a century of catastrophe.

The onset of the Great Famine coincided with the end of the Medieval Warm Period. Between 1310 and 1330 northern Europe saw some of the worst and most sustained periods of bad weather in the entire Middle Ages, characterized by severe winters and rainy and cold summers.

Before the Medieval warm period, there was likely a Roman warm period… which ended around 400 AD which oddly enough was also a time of disasters for civilization.

Just my random thought, but  we very well may experience a cooler earth (due to decreased solar activity) and if we do, it is scientific and technological advances like fracking, burning oil rather than trees, and probably genetically modified food that will stand between civilization and starvation.


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