The Hudson Institute’s Michael Fumento weighs in on the debate over genetically improved foods in this week’s National Review, noting that opposition tactics (as typified by Greenpeace) tend to rely on a one-two punch: “First,” Fumento writes, “if you throw enough ‘darts,’ one may eventually stick.” Second, “the collective weight of one false scare after another could send agricultural biotech the way of nuclear power.”
Greenpeace’s latest “dart” is a constant public denial that genetically modified (GM) crops will ever reach the Third World markets where they can do the most good. One Greenpeace spokesman told The Guardian (a UK paper) yesterday that “no GM company is going to produce varieties for poor countries unless it sees a market.” Despite the naysayers’ dire warnings, MIT’s Technology Review predicts that “the next big producers of biotech crops may well be nations in the developing world. While battles over genetically modified foods have slowed the technology’s progress in Europe and North America, countries such as China and India are now gearing up to commercialize dozens of genetically modified plants in the next few years.”
Indeed, as countries in Africa and Asia try to figure out how quickly they can adopt biotech farming practices, the debate in the United States has devolved into petty skirmishes over which points of view are represented in higher-education seminars. Noted anti-technologist Jeremy Rifkin, for instance, is miffed that an Idaho college cancelled his speaking engagement after they learned of his virulent opposition to progress in agriculture.
Fumento might have added a third tactic to his National Review commentary, namely the marriage of terrorism and vandalism, both of which are being employed almost daily in France by members of Jose Bove’s activist clique. The most recent crime was perpetrated on an 80-square-yard biotech test site by a mob that included members of the militant environmental group Friends of the Earth.