Wednesday, June 04, 2003

GM food will save starving africans [NYT]
In the past 20 years, the [Rift valley] lake shores have exchanged any lingering memories of the past for a booming industry in the cultivation and sale of out-of-season vegetables like snow peas and trimmed beans, and cut flowers like roses and carnations -- virtually all of them exported to distant markets in Europe. Paradoxically, the huge expansion of fancy food for export has come in a land that, because of sporadic drought and not-so-sporadic economic mismanagement, cannot grow enough of its own staple, corn.
Oh, by the way:
The price of GM foods in the market, and hence the cost of production for farmers, is also a contentious issue. Extensive research into the cost effectiveness of using GM seed has been inconclusive. While it is true that GM production saves on labour costs and herbicides and pesticides through their resistance to certain chemicals or insects, there is no notable increase in crop yield. Savings for farmers are also offset by the increased cost of GM seeds and restrictive contracts from biotech companies, which can forbid seed-saving, a common agricultural practice.

In harvests where GM protection has provided an advantage over non-GM crops (an infestation of "corn borers" for example, from which GM corn is resistant), farmers still gain little because higher-than-expected yields will drive down grain prices. But even if GM production is a factor in lowering corn prices from the Americas, there is no doubt that the real advantage over the EU is based more on economies of scale, with larger land holdings benefiting from cheaper labour and fewer agricultural restrictions.

[Economist "executive briefing" via AgBioView]

See also this Post article on venetian nostrane produce:

Italians aren't so much against "Frankenstein food," as newspapers call the genetically modified products, as they are opposed to a general homogenization it represents.
This seems to be difficult for some people to understand.


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