Bill Gates says ideology threatens hunger fix

Bill Gates calls opposition to his plan to foist the fruits of the biotech “green” revolution on Africa ideology. He has a lot of nerve. This story is from Reuters

UPDATE 2-Bill Gates says ideology threatens hunger fix
Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:24pm EDT
By Christine Stebbins and Roberta Rampton

DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct 15 (Reuters) – The fight to end hunger is being hurt by environmentalists who insist that genetically modified crops cannot be used in Africa, Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of software giant Microsoft, said on Thursday.

Gates said GMO crops, fertilizer and chemicals are important tools — although not the only tools — to help small farms in Africa boost production.

“This global effort to help small farmers is endangered by an ideological wedge that threatens to split the movement in two,” Gates said in his first address on agriculture made during the annual World Food Prize forum.

“Some people insist on an ideal vision of the environment,” Gates said. “They have tried to restrict the spread of biotechnology into sub-Saharan Africa without regard to how much hunger and poverty might be reduced by it.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in recent years has turned its focus to helping poor, small-holder farmers grow and sell more crops as a way to reduce hunger and poverty.

The foundation, which has committed $1.4 billion to agricultural development efforts, announced on Thursday nine new grants worth a total of $120 million aimed at raising yields and farming expertise in the developing world.

Funding will go to legumes that fix nitrogen in the soil, higher-yielding varieties of sorghum and millet, and new varieties of sweet potatoes that resist pests, Gates said.

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) will get $15 million to help train analysts and encourage farmer-friendly policies on seeds, markets, land tenure and women’s rights in five countries that have made strides in developing agriculture.

The World Food Prize was established by Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist known as “the father of the Green Revolution” for his work with rice and wheat.

Gates acknowledged the first Green Revolution had negative impacts on the environment as it dramatically raised yields.

“The next Green Revolution has to be greener than the first,” Gates said. “It must be guided by small-holder farmers, adapted to local circumstances, and sustainable for the economy and the environment.”

The Gates Foundation is working with research partners on drought-tolerant maize using both conventional crop-breeding techniques and biotechnology, Gates said, noting he hopes seeds will be available in two or three years.

The impact of those new varieties could help convince skeptics of the benefits of biotechnology, he said.

“The technologies will be licensed royalty free to seed distributors so that the new seeds can be sold to African farmers without extra charge,” Gates said.

“I hope that the debate over productivity will not slow the distribution of these seeds,” Gates said.

The debate is not over productivity, Mr. Gates. The debate is over the side-effects of this horror story technology now dominating US agriculture. The benefits of biotechnology are all hype, except for the manufacturers, who profit immensely. Genetically engineered crops are antithetical to sustainability, because they destroy biodiversity and have bad effects on the beings who eat them. There is no way around this. The science is based on false premises, and the purveyors of this science drastically restrict independent research on their products, because they do not want the bad news to come out. This new green revolution promises to have far worse effects on the environment than the old one, which was bad enough. The increase in yields was temporary and came at tremendous cost.

Bill Gates exemplifies the attitude of modern science. It has created a huge mess through pollution, loss of biodiversity, predators on pests, and topsoil, and climate change, so how to fix it? Engineer crops to resist drought and insects, of course! Anyone who protests is a paranoid hysterical know-nothing Luddite ideologue who does not care about alleviating hunger and poverty! If I believed for a minute these new crops would do anything to benefit the people, I might cut his incredible arrogance some slack, but I happen to know better! Even if the yields are temporarily better, feeding people more food that makes them sick is hardly a desirable result. What is known about the effects of eating these crops, despite the cloak of secrecy imposed by the manufacturers, makes the attitude of Mr. Gates not only arrogant, but racist. There are plenty of things making poor Africans sick already, so he wants to add food into that mix. Their native foods will be bred out of existence by pollen drift from these engineered crops. Africans are already in great peril from the effects of climate change. When it is discovered that the fruits of US farming expertise are poisoning their people, it will be difficult or impossible for them to bring back their native varieties. But hell, no problem, people like Gates will blame the new waves of cancer and immune dysfunction on HIV!

In case anyone expects President Obama to stop this madness because he has more reason than most to care about Africans, think again. He is all for it, as are the Clintons and practically every other politician of both parties. Read the story at the Category Home link on the top of this page. Obama has made a big issue of restoring science to its rightful place, in contrast to Bush. It is too bad the purveyors of science for profit are the scientists Obama respects. There are scientists who know how terribly science is being abused, but those are generally marginalized as kooks or worse, so they are not the ones Obama respects.

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