Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quote of the Week: WSJ on Borlaug on exploiting the earth

    Today, famines—whether in Zimbabwe, Darfur or North Korea—are politically induced events, not true natural disasters.
    “In later life, Borlaug was criticized by self-described "greens" whose hostility to technology put them athwart the revolution he had set in motion. Borlaug fired back, warning in these pages that fear-mongering by environmental extremists against synthetic pesticides, inorganic fertilizers and genetically modified foods would again put millions at risk of starvation while damaging the very biodiversity those extremists claimed to protect. In saving so many, Borlaug showed that a genuine green movement doesn't pit man against the Earth, but rather applies human intelligence to exploit the Earth's resources to improve life for everyone."
[emphasis added.}
……………………………………………………Wall Street Journal on Norman Borlaug, who died this …………………………………………………..week [hat tip Liberty Scott]

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Barry said...

“In later life, Borlaug was criticized by self-described "greens" whose hostility to technology put them athwart the revolution he had set in motion. Borlaug fired back, warning in these pages that fear-mongering by environmental extremists against synthetic pesticides, inorganic fertilizers and genetically modified foods would again put millions at risk of starvation while damaging the very biodiversity those extremists claimed to protect. In saving so many, Borlaug showed that a genuine green movement doesn't pit man against the Earth, but rather applies human intelligence to exploit the Earth's resources to improve life for everyone." [emphasis added.}

Of course famine is a socially constructed situation. It results from poverty. Poverty can result from both the current political and economic systems or even from libertarian societies because there is obviously no guarantee someone will have $.

Anyway, the examples given by the writer in his quote of "fear-mongering by environmental extremists against synthetic pesticides, inorganic fertilizers and genetically modified foods" is not as hard hitting as might first be thought.

None of these things are required in order to grow sufficient quantities of food. There is plenty of land which is currently under-farmed or farmed by very inefficient meat-producing animals.

There are alternatives to pesticides and their use can be dramatically reduced, along with environmental impacts by using cheap and effective alternatives and new technology. For example Sweden has halved its use of pesticides with hardly any reduction in crops.

Likewise organic fertilizers are available and would not that much more expensive: According to a 32-year Swedish study into crop yields comparing organic and synthetic fertilization, yield increased in all treatments (organic and synthetic) in concordance with the overall trend of the Swedish agriculture, but the increase was highest in the organic treatments.

Finally, the cops in the world these days are edible and can grow well. There is no need to be tampering with their genetic makeup any more than we already do by mating plants the way Borlaug did 50 years ago.

I think it is a weak quote overall. When you actually read it critically instead of taking the rhetoric at face value.

9/18/2009 01:28:00 am  
Blogger Clunking Fist said...

Edible cops? Mmmm, I LIKE pork...

9/18/2009 12:41:00 pm  

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