ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

11 March 2002


for more on Prakash see:
The Editor
The Grocer
5 March 2002


Professor CS Prakash makes strong assertions both about the honesty of critics of biotechnology, as well as a variety of claims about the benefits of GM and its role in poverty alleviation.  (GM: technology will help the poor, The Grocer, March 2).  Professor Prakash is an unapologetic cheerleader for GM technology.   But even discounting his facetious suggestion that we all eat less meat and that Iowa farmers give their crops away, there is little in his letter that merits serious consideration.

His claims that developing either GM crops or export markets will "help in reducing hunger", or lead to "increased prosperity in the rural sector" would be laughable were they not so misleading.

The crisis in Argentina in late 2001 perfectly  illustrates the frustrating and unjust reality: in 2001 Argentina produced enough wheat to meet the needs of both  India and China  - around half the global population.   Yet neither Argentina's productivity nor its  status as the second largest produce of GM crops - largely for export - did anything to solve its very real hunger problem at home.

More examples can be found the world over: in 2000 in India, which accounts for more than a third of the world's hungry, more than 50 million tonnes of grain rotted in silos.  In Thailand  nearly 43% of the rural population lives below the poverty line, even though agricultural exports grew 65 percent between 1985 and 1995.  Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, the Philippines, all suffered an increase in rural poverty and hunger despite an abundant yields and participation in the global commodity trade.

Professor Prakash and other GM apologists are hiding the truth: faith in increasing agricultural intensity - like GM - and the global marketplace will result in a race to the bottom for poor farmers around the world.

Access to either GM technology or the global market isn't part of the solution; it's part of the problem.  The only real solution to the problems of both poverty and hunger , as well as protecting the environment ­ upon which real prosperity depends - is low input, low cost, sophisticated knowledge based agriculture.   It is based on a process and not a product, which has no price on the global market. No wonder the Professor cannot see its value.

Charlie Kronick
Chief Policy Advisor and GM Campaign Team

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