Friday, 20 June 2008

Guns or butter applies to crops, too

The Indie on Sunday's Environmental Editor writes in the Mail this morning on GM crops to do a pretty thorough demolition job on the biotech firms' claims. GM crops are not higher yielding, and are not the answer to third world hunger. There are no overall advantages in pest or disease resistance. The plants are sterile in the F1 generation, meaning farmers have to buy seeds every year from the biotech firms. And most damning of all, traditional methods of natural interbreeding have proved far more effective in producing cultivars with given characteristics than GM has.

If oil prices rise to $200 and beyond the cost of fertilizers and pesticides becomes prohibitive, and the choice may vector to cultivars with greater natural disease resistance but lower yields, or lower quantities of high yield cultivars. Guns or butter. Either way, the phenomenon of past few decades in which world agricultural productivity has matched extraordinary population growth has ended. And it doesn't matter if wheat is used to make biofuels, feed beef cattle or make bread; guns or butter again. It's the overall quantity produced that's critical, not the end use.

Those of us who grew up with the battle against famine in China, India, Africa and even the USSR - and remember, the cold war was won not with nuclear missiles but with US and Canadian wheat - need no reminder how fragile is our ability to feed ourselves. There was a comment from an old City man in last night's Standard to the effect that few of those now in the Treasury and the Bank were old enough to have had experienced a recession and were running about like headless chickens. The same applies to many now in government never having experienced the gutwrenching helplessness as millions in other nations faced starvation, disease and death.

I've written here before that my generation, a generation never called upon to go to war, never hungry, never having faced epidemic disease, and having enjoyed half a century of unprecedented economic and technological advance fuelled by cheap oil, may represent the fin de siecle of the 20th century, an extended Edwardian summer, and that as in August 1914 all this is about to fragment and disappear for ever. A government that makes a priority of both energy security and food security in all its actions is now more critical than ever; Brown and Labour are simply incapable of this. Getting them out of office is no longer a matter of Political preference but a matter of the gravest and most compelling importance for our national future.

7 comments:

Blue Eyes said...

Food security is especially critical in Britain, where we have not been self-sufficient for decades (I think possibly 100 years but I can't quite remember). I hadn't connected the two things, but perhaps this is one reason why UK governments always become more pro-EU - perhaps the French and Germans threaten us with food export bans...

William Gruff said...

I agree that this government threatens our national survival but simply getting them out is not the solution and the Conservatives are not the answer to our problems.

We need a parliament containing a substantial number of independents not bound by the tyranny of the whip system to reform our seriously flawed political process, and we don't need anything even remotely resembling PR.

Anonymous said...

And yet, at a time when maintaining a secure food supply is more vital than ever, the government rapes the fishing industry and pays European farmers not to grow anything.

IanPJ said...

Given that the biotech firms in league with some of the other global players have already built their seed bank in the Arctic, one really does wonder whether this move to colonise the globe with GM crops is now using food as a weapon, furthering the agenda of the globalists to reduce the world population by making food shortages and price increases look like a series of natural disaster events.

http://tinyurl.com/5bxcrl

Bill Quango MP said...

So we do need the EU? The CAP is a good thing? Didn't we used on giant mountains of unwanted food..Has all that over production capacity been used up, or has farming been reformed.
Do we still ask farmers to grow nothing in exchange for subsidy?
What is the true state of European agriculture I wonder.

Newmania said...

Just caught up

V good

Newmania said...

Just caught up

V good