Anti-GMO nutbars are causing poor people in Africa to go hungry – again. Excerpt:
The resistance genes from sweet pepper have been studied for decades. Dr. Leena Tripathi and her team at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture then moved two specific resistance genes (called HRAP and PFLP) from sweet pepper into matooke. Years later, the plants are beautiful, standing tall, green and strong, even in the presence of the disease.
Standing beneath them is breathtaking. I stood and starred up at a cure for starvation. Maybe these plants would not feed the world, but they could bring desperately-needed security to the plates of East African small farmers.
It was in that canopy of disease-resistant plants that Dr. Priver Namanya told us the story of the modified matooke, and its success in conferring resistance to bacterial wilt. She kindly escorted us to the field, in flip flops and a bright flowered skirt, smiling the whole time as she showed us her work. You could tell she was proud of the solutions that she helped create and foster. She told us about the genetics that also fought off fungal diseases like black sigatoka, also endemic in the region. We stood beneath the proof that this food staple could be protected by a tweak from modern biotechnology.
But comfortable, well-fed Western loonies and the African government bureaucrats who listen to them can’t let that stand:
Today these solutions are frozen in place, unable to serve those they were intended to serve. The green, lush plants remain locked behind high fences, the tops wound with razor wire. The carefully designed plants stand behind an official sign that says, “For Research Purposes Only”. The fence, the security, the sign – it makes a heart hurt. These plants are the living options for people who are out of options.
The anti-biotech sentiments of the USA and EU resonate loudly in the African continent, as African officials contemplate why they should approve technologies that wealthy countries in the EU reject. There is well-earned suspicion of “western” technology. But in Uganda, where solutions to small holder subsistence farmers thrive behind the security fences and razor wire, there was not even a mechanism to begin to debate, to test, or to deregulate these solutions that their own scientists created.
There hasn’t been any indication that properly developed and tested GMO crops are harmful. Every crop grown today, after all, has been genetically modified, by selective breeding and hybridization. The difference is only one of technique.
Western busybodies are starving people in the name of pseudoscience. That’s not just nitwittery; it’s criminal nitwittery. I’ve gone on and on at this topic for years now, and it never ceases to amaze me how short-sighted people can be.