First World Food Imperialists

It is inevitable that a site and material like ours–which offers all sides of a picture–will be attacked any anyone with a side. Our point is, why are there sides? We all want the same things:

  • Healthy Food

  • Sustainable, Resilient Food Security

  • A Safe Environment

 

This means we’re all interested in:

  • Nutritious, productive growing conditions

  • A healthy, productive growing environment

  • A system that works for the planet and not just people

 

Activists suggest that the imperialists are the big corporations that sense a new market in Africa and South America. It could be argued that business can be an imperialistic force for sure, but it also loves new markets, so it could have a hidden agenda or it could be the more likely thing: they’re going there because they have a product the local farmers want. I’m not sure why the First World doesn’t think the Third World is intelligent enough to negotiate its own intelligent regulations and deals, as any other nation does. There is no shortage of brilliant African scientists, lawyers and politicians shepherding the best interests of their societies and they want access to the same tools that we have, but its activists that are preventing that.

How does this affect Africa, for instance? Reduced productivity, due to crops lost to pests. Attempts to save their crop without modern methods means they need to use old-fashioned, much more toxic pesticides than our farmers use. This is unfair, and to suggest that somehow corporations are to blame for insects in Africa is absurd. Obviously they exist and obviously they want to eat nutritious food just like we do. Agriculture has always been a battle between ourselves and the other creatures that would otherwise eat our crops for their own gain.

By fighting against GMOs, activists fight against farmers having solutions that work for them. Africa has its own GMO development labs, it doesn’t need the West. Big companies like Dow and Syngenta and Monsanto and BASF aren’t interested in developing a hardy banana seed because that’s for a tree and you only plant a tree once. But Africa has cooperated on the development of its GMO banana and yet activists are working to ban GMOs in Africa because most of them don’t even know that non-corporate interests like universities often develop GMOs. The Arctic (non-browning) Apple was developed not far from the Learn GMO base of operations, on an an orchard in British Columbia.

Suggesting that we can feed the Third World and not plant GMOs is naive. There’s over eighteen million farmers in nearly thirty nations (20 of them being developing countries), that cultivate GMO crops on close to 450 million acres. Just take the food grown on 4.94 billion acres (the amount that have been planted since the first GM crops were approved in ‘96), and ask how many of our 7.5 billion Earthlings would otherwise, without those GMOs, have starved to death in that 20 year period. Five billion acres of food obviously made a difference to world hunger.

We believe that the activists are well-intentioned and sincere in their belief that they are acting on the side what is good and right, but at the same time we know from direct experience talking with GMO detractors, almost none of them have been to Africa nor have they ever spoken to a scientist about what a GMO really is nor do they understand how nature itself mutates your foods.

Throughout history imperialistic forces have done damage under the sincere belief that they were doing the right thing. But like early Canadian politicians putting Natives into religious schools to “civilize” them, we will look back upon those well-intentioned actions as being unwise and disrespectful to the needs of those people, and we will also squander their potential contributions to solutions for everyone.

On Canada’s 150th birthday it’s nice to see the traditional struggles between immigrant and native Canada being slowly converted into a form of expanded cooperation, where both forces are combining themselves into an even greater collective–something suitable as a guide for the mixed egalitarianism of the coming Star Trek generation. It’s time the same happened with food. Africans have the right to solve their own challenges, using the same technology that we still use to solve our own challenges today. Progress isn’t to be feared. To be against GMOs is to be against Africans developing the tools they need to succeed in the coming century.

All links in this article listed below:

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/25/opinion/sunday/with-gmo-policies-europe-turns-against-science.html?_r=1
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/gm-banana-designed-to-slash-african-infant-mortality-enters-human-trials-9541380.html
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-07/bananas-boosted-with-vitamin-a-hoped-to-save-lives-in-africa/8660500
http://www.naro.go.ug/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3198699/
https://www.facebook.com/learngmo/videos/vb.350261988679809/385175128521828/
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/nature/fewer-pesticides-farming-with-gmos/
http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/24/africa/armyworm-invasion-africa/index.html
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/30/nobel-winners-slam-greenpeace-for-anti-gm-campaign
https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensavage/2016/03/19/why-i-dont-buy-organic-and-why-you-might-want-to-either/#5f9bb08f69c3
https://will.illinois.edu/news/story/will-st.-louis-grown-gmos-help-east-african-farmers-avoid-food-shortages-it
http://www.businessinsider.com/foods-before-genetic-modification-2015-8/#wild-watermelon-1