Militant anti-biotechnology activist extraordinaire Jose Bove was back in action this weekend, leading hundreds of protestors in an invasion of a genetically-modified corn field in France on Saturday. Police arrived before the mob could completely destroy the crops and, after a brief scuffle, arrested three people. Bove, who rose to prominence in 1999 after he and his anti-everything confreres literally destroyed a McDonald’s, escaped scot-free. But as he told the French press in a self-proclaimed move of solidarity with his captured brethren, “I act with my face uncovered, I take responsibility for my actions.”
This sort of brazenly unapologetic rhetoric is typical of Bove, who justified this crime just like he has his others — by claiming to have uncovered evidence of “genetic pollution” and a “risk of contamination” to nearby organic farms.
If that sounds like spin without any scientific basis, that’s because it is. As Bove’s detractors (otherwise known as “scientists”) point out, genetically modified foods — which grow faster and are more disease-resistant than their “natural” counterparts — have saved millions of people from starving to death. As Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, and former president Jimmy Carter wrote in a 2005 Wall Street Journal column:
The Green Revolution, as this period came to be known in the developing world, has kept more than one billion people from hunger, starvation, and even death … [A]t the core was the development and application of new high-yielding, disease- and insect-resistant seeds, new products to restore soil fertility and control pests, and a succession of agricultural machines to ease drudgery and speed everything from planting to harvesting.
Bove’s neo-Luddite screeds and revolutionist posturing would be nothing more than a minor annoyance if they were confined to smoke-filled coffee shops and organic-only co-ops. But, as made evident by the recent tizzy over genetically-modified rice in the British food supply, anti-biotech forces have gained a substantial following. And, as noted by Borlaug and Carter, Western blockades of safe GM crops “impede its acceptance in most poor, food-insecure countries.”