Letter: Modified famine
Saturday 20 February 1999
We are repeatedly told by biotechnology companies and not a few politicians that genetically modified foods are the solution to the developing world's ills. In the West we produce more food than we know what to do with. In the developing world people starve for a variety of reasons, few having anything to do with the inability of their lands to produce the food they need to sustain them. Genetically modified foods will do little to help the starving in Africa, but stable government and an end to internecine slaughter will cure many of their woes.
Even supposing peace and stability could be brought to the worst famine- afflicted regions, are we to believe that this wonder technology is to be given away at a price which the poorer nations could sustainably afford to pay?
The case in favour of genetically modified foods has nothing to do with any benefit that mankind may derive therefrom and everything to do with control and money. Biotechnology companies are currently engaged in a race to acquire control over the methods of, and money spent on, food production. No doubt the financial means will be found to foist this technology on to an unsuspecting developing world and thus increase the dependency of the developing world on the West, far from helping the poorer nations to feed themselves.
It is at best a foolhardy exercise and at worst, the most cynical example of the exploitation of the developing world we have yet seen.
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