Luddites say let them starve

September 3rd, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A major conference bringing together the world’s biggest players in genetic modification opened to the angry chants of protesters yesterday.

The week-long international agricultural biotechnology conference is being described by those on both sides of the genetic modification debate as a significant event for GM – but for opposing reasons.

Organisers hoped the Rotorua conference would foster collaboration and provide more answers on how GM could assist in feeding a world population expected to double by 2050.

Nope. Those extra people just have to starve as GM is evil.

The chief executive of event hosts NZBIO, Suzanne Bertrand, said GM was one “tool” to advance research.

“New Zealand is feeding about 19 million people out of its agriculture and it is using the latest technology … it’s been using biotechnology for the last 20 years – without it, we would be nowhere,” she said. “Some people say we shouldn’t even touch , but as a tool for research it’s very interesting.”

There is huge potential, and none of the scare stories are yet to come true.

Jerome Konescni, who chairs the body that organised the international conference, argued that could not be done using organic food.

“The question I would ask proponents of organics is: if we have to double the world’s food supply by 2050, how are you going to do with it technology that … reduces production rather than increases it?”

But MP Steffan Browning, who hosted an afternoon seminar against GE in a meeting room a few hundred metres away, called the view “rubbish”.

“If our population goes berserk, no system is going to feed the world. But organic and traditional means are going to feed the world better until we hit that point … GE is not going to do it.”

The Green version of “Let them eat cake”.

If the luddites succeed in banning GE, it won’t be the first time their policies have killed huge numbers of people. For years they campaigned on how must replace oil and demanded big subsidies for them. So farmers all around the world dug up their food producing crops and starting growing biofuel crops instead.

The World Bank has estimated that the push for biofuels has pushed 35 million more people into absolute poverty and resulted in 192,000 additional deaths a year.

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50 Responses to “Luddites say let them starve”

  1. kowtow (7,591 comments) says:

    I don’t buy the line “if we don’t do this great harm will be done”. The pro MP speakers pushed that hard in the redefining marriage debate.

    Starvation happens because those shit hole countries are dictatorships,have inefficient farming methods, pest and storage problems,endemic corruption,are over populated and uneducated……..or a combination of those factors.

    GE won’t save or destroy the world.It will make money for Monsanto etc but let’s not pretend it’s the answer to feeding the world.Nor is organic.

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  2. tom hunter (4,374 comments) says:

    “If our population goes berserk, no system is going to feed the world.

    It’s yet another great example of how these people seem to be stuck in the past, when a ’70′s soundbite like that one is hauled out.

    Far from going berserk, global population for the mid-21st century has been pegged at 9 billion for over a decade now, after which it is going to fall. And this is no modelling snapshot but the continuation of a trend that has been apparent for some time. From memory the UN unit that “monitors” global population, had the following predictions for 2050:
    1975 – 20 billion
    1985 – 15 billion
    1995 – 11 billion

    The real problem is going to be the demographics of that nine billion. It’s going to be a real test of all aspects of production when twenty five percent of the population are 65 or older, not to mention our social safety net. The Greens might try thinking about that future.

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  3. kowtow (7,591 comments) says:

    Now that India ,pakistan,Iran and North Korea have the almighty bomb a lot of pressure will be taken off population growth in those areas, especially in the crowded cities which will be the first targets.
    Problem will be whether there are enough people left to go harvest radioactive chick peas when it’s all over.

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  4. graham (2,214 comments) says:

    Ummmm … do I see a bit of a knee-jerk reaction here in favour of GM, just because the Greens say it’s bad? And of course, anything the Greens say is bad, must automatically be good – right?

    “Luddites … their policies have killed huge numbers of people …”??? Seriously? A bit over the top I think. Sort of like the Greens in fact – now there’s an irony.

    “None of the scare stories are yet to come true”. Really? Let’s take just one example. A laboratory study was published in “Nature” showing that pollen from B.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis) corn caused high mortality rates in monarch butterfly caterpillars. Monarch caterpillars consume milkweed plants, not corn, but the fear is that if pollen from B.t. corn is blown by the wind onto milkweed plants in neighboring fields, the caterpillars could eat the pollen and perish. Now although the “Nature” study was not conducted under natural field conditions, the results seemed to support this viewpoint.

    Not saying the Greens are necessarily right, just saying that we shouldn’t fall into the trap of automatically saying, “If the Greens oppose it, then it must be good!!!” A little more research (or a lot) could help understand all the benefits AND the risks.

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  5. rouppe (914 comments) says:

    Interestingly most of the new varieties of apple are achieved by cross-pollinating the different varieties. This is effectively GE. I think that doing the same sort of thing in a lab is fine, as it is speeding up and making more reliable something that can happen in nature.

    However I am much more cautious about putting the genes of a completely different organism into something else in order to make it resistent to bugs for example. If it is a genetic modification that could not occur naturally, I am not comfortable with the process

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  6. redeye (631 comments) says:

    The main issue with GE crops for me is cross contamination.

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  7. Ross12 (1,147 comments) says:

    The Australians in their recently released National Food Plan recognise the positive role that GM crops will play in it’s future and in one of it’s goals being able to supply food to the growing middle/uppper income groups in Asia over the 40-50 years.
    Obviously ,this strategic plan was put out by a Labor/Green government.

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  8. Manolo (13,339 comments) says:

    No further proof needed: the Luddite Greens are for the wrecking and destruction of the NZ economy.

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  9. flipper (3,538 comments) says:

    Never set up a “Royal Commission” to examine an emotion charged political issue unless one knows what it will say – Governments on Royal Commissions 101.

    That is what we had, at a cost of millions and lots of bureaucratic make work.

    There is fundamentally no difference between GM (aided by science) and evolution. It is clrearly modification from the original (well, pre-existing).

    If GM is evil, so is evolution since it represents genetic modification by adaptation to the world as it is at any given time.

    Opposing GM is just a silly. Well, at least until pigs start to fly.

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  10. graham (2,214 comments) says:

    Ah right … as long as science is in control, we’re all fine.

    Because science never gets it wrong.

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  11. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    graham:Monarch caterpillars consume milkweed plants, not corn, but the fear is that if pollen from B.t. corn is blown by the wind onto milkweed plants in neighboring fields, the caterpillars could eat the pollen and perish. Now although the “Nature” study was not conducted under natural field conditions, the results seemed to support this viewpoint.

    When this study came out people pointed out that it wasn’t conducted under natural field conditions and probably didn’t have any relevance to what would happen in nature. Subsequent studies, under natural field condition, confirmed that this was so and that the monarch butterfly was not under threat from GE corn. So this scare story didn’t – and won’t – come true. From memory, some of the authors of this study turned out to be involved with organics.

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  12. slijmbal (1,210 comments) says:

    The point that the greens seem to be eternal luddites is hard to disagree with -frankenfood did not occur and we have not had wholesale species destruction for instance. Farming does affect the biodiversity – the removal of hedgerows in the UK has been a disaster for many birds for instance – the african approach to farming of burning the fields on a regular basis has huge effects on the local fauna and flora – so the study showing an adverse effect on a species of butterfly doesn’t really get me reaching for the torch and pitchfork to attack the GE scientists in the castle.

    I remember various disaster predictions such as GE genes crossing species boundaries and even entering the human body. The fact that we regularly introduce thousands and thousands of genes to the body on a daily basis – it is called eating – didn’t seem to enter the logic free zone that is most green science.

    Those who hate GE perhaps they would prefer the approach of irradiating the plants to cause excessive mutation and then fixing desired traits via selective breeding as that is one approach used in the past. It’s like using a shotgun compared to GE and arguably substantially more capable of ending up with the triffids taking over the world.

    It is arguable that the use of bio fuel has killed quite a lot of people through food price increases though the real issue here is political in the countries where most starvation occurs. It certainly made the situation worse. GE will only work if it is more effective and/or cheaper than the current approaches to farming – so yes some companies will make more money but then again they will have been paid for something better – it’s called capitalism. So it is likely that GE, if it succeeds, will actually feed more people for less cost and actually can save lives.

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  13. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    kowtow:GE won’t save or destroy the world.It will make money for Monsanto etc but let’s not pretend it’s the answer to feeding the world.Nor is organic

    There are GE crops in development that will, if they succeed, be a bit more useful in feeding the world than the ones currently on sale.

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  14. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    redeye:The main issue with GE crops for me is cross contamination.

    Use of the judgemental term contamination seems standard with the anti-GE crowd and the media have even adopted this term which helps them. The more appropriate term is surely mixing, and it isn’t unique to GE.

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  15. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    “There is huge potential, and none of the scare stories are yet to come true.”

    This is a completely false statement as anyone who knows the evil of Monsanto can attest.

    Monsanto GE seeds have absolutely no substance and rats could not survive on these seeds which are basically husks.

    Indian farmers using Monsanto seeds have committed suicide in mass numbers as their crops have failed year after year.

    Naturally the MSM does not report this carnage but the Alternative media does. Max Keiser is now recognised as the number one financial blogger and speaks out against Monsanto heavily. Not to mention the Libor fiasco he pointedly reported on long before the MSM.

    If one factor came out from Barclays and Libor, conspiracies certainly exist. Jamie Dymon from JP Morgan has been forced to resign. So someone needs to support Keiser big time and expose Monsanto and get the momentum on the roll.

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  16. alloytoo (432 comments) says:

    Surely this idiots realize that practically every cultivated food we eat today has been “modified”, some for thousands of years.

    If they stop eating ‘modified’ foods they will starve, no question.

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  17. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    Crop output is not the cause of starvation in the world, and improving crop output is not going to solve the problem.

    We already have enough resources to go around. It doesn’t go around. That’s the problem.

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  18. redeye (631 comments) says:

    “contamination” is a judgemental term? Lol

    Probably is if you’ve been farming the same seeds for generations and Monsanto moves in next door.

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  19. Megan (12 comments) says:

    The crazy thing is there is actually a good environmental case for GM crops too. A lot of people opposed to GM have no knowledge of conventional methods of plant breeding which is often fair less controlled and sometimes more offputting than Transgenic and Cisgenic methods.

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  20. Brian Smaller (3,984 comments) says:

    Surely this idiots realize that practically every cultivated food we eat today has been “modified”, some for thousands of years.

    If they stop eating ‘modified’ foods they will starve, no question.

    We can only hope.

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  21. Steve Wrathall (238 comments) says:

    “…it won’t be the first time their policies have killed huge numbers of people…”
    Indeed, their banning of DDT caused an extra 20 million deaths from malaria

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  22. Griff (6,712 comments) says:

    Extreme un informed and blatantly untrue Luddite statement of the day
    hinamanu (1,574) Says:
    September 3rd, 2012 at 12:09 pm
    “Monsanto GE seeds have absolutely no substance and rats could not survive on these seeds which are basically husks.”
    Husks are called bran Luddite and go real well with mung beans

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  23. redeye (631 comments) says:

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  24. graham (2,214 comments) says:

    chiz at 12:01 pm: Fair enough.

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  25. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    Looks like the 21st century left are setting out to beat the rather impressive number of deaths they caused in the 20th century.

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  26. Bob R (1,336 comments) says:

    ***GM could assist in feeding a world population expected to double by 2050.***

    It’s about time the UN and various aid agencies got serious about contraceptive education in sub-saharan Africa. The increased populations in those regions are going to be a disaster in terms of conflict over resources, wildlife destruction, aid demands on first world countries and asylum seekers flooding into Europe.

    If they can’t get their fertility rates down closer to 2 per couple (rather than 5 or over) then aid should be restricted.

    http://evoandproud.blogspot.co.nz/2010/04/population-replacement-in-algeria.html

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  27. hj (6,347 comments) says:

    “The question I would ask proponents of organics is: if we have to double the world’s food supply by 2050, how are you going to do with it technology that … reduces production rather than increases it?”

    But Greens MP Steffan Browning, who hosted an afternoon seminar against GE in a meeting room a few hundred metres away, called the view “rubbish”.

    “If our population goes berserk, no system is going to feed the world. But organic and traditional means are going to feed the world better until we hit that point … GE is not going to do it.”
    ………………………..
    He’s quite right
    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/arithmetic-population-and-energy-lecture/

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  28. loonybonkersmad (27 comments) says:

    Bob R: “It’s about time the UN and various aid agencies got serious about contraceptive education in sub-saharan Africa. The increased populations in those regions are going to be a disaster in terms of conflict over resources, wildlife destruction and aid demands on first world countries.”

    I’ve rewritten for a local point of view:

    “It’s about time the UN and various aid agencies got serious about contraceptive education in New Zealand. The increased population in this country is going to be a disaster in terms of conflict over resources, wildlife destruction and aid demands on those able to hold down a job.”

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  29. Paulus (2,496 comments) says:

    Evolution of the human species is GE.
    That is why there are no real Maori in New Zealand, only modifications genetically engineered by cross pollination of the mixing of genes.

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  30. kowtow (7,591 comments) says:

    Bobr

    “If they can’t get their fertility …..then aid should be restricted.”

    In the ’50′s they all said “whitey go home,we innapendant,go back where u come from.”

    S’far as I’m concerned giving them aid is a waste of tax payers borrowed money and so is allowing immigration from those shitholes.

    If they want to have babies that’s no ones business but their own. And we should not make it our problem. Unless they say “Please come back we fucked it up good an’ proper,you was always right”.

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  31. Griff (6,712 comments) says:

    Do not give to charities that feed the starving in sub-Saharan Africa and similar regions unless they also enforce contraception
    The idiot charities have created a lot of the famine by exporting western medical knowledge and food to countries that are not advanced and unable to cope with the resulting population explosions. All the stupid aid does is create war misery and give idiots the warm fuzzys
    The worst I have seen is buying goats Give a man a goat and feed him for a few years thereby destroying the ecology and insuring the whole region is uninhabitable for ever

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  32. emmess (1,368 comments) says:

    Indian farmers using Monsanto seeds have committed suicide in mass numbers as their crops have failed year after year.

    So they shouldn’t buy them then or are you saying that Indian farmers are too stupid to understand that?
    And why would Monsanto want to provide goods that harm their customer’s financial interests?

    Naturally the MSM does not report this carnage but the Alternative media does. Max Keiser is now recognised as the number one financial blogger and speaks out against Monsanto heavily. Not to mention the Libor fiasco he pointedly reported on long before the MSM.

    That would be Max Keiser with a show on RT (Russia Today), the most blatant propaganda, you will ever see in the 21st century, every story is spun to give an anti-western (mostly anti-American) line, and if they can’t find an anti-western angle, they give Russia the credit.
    E.g. when Curiosity landed on Mars, they didn’t mention it was American, but that a landing gear or some minor component was built in Russia.
    Independent, my arse.

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  33. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    rouppe:However I am much more cautious about putting the genes of a completely different organism into something else in order to make it resistent to bugs for example. If it is a genetic modification that could not occur naturally, I am not comfortable with the process

    This argument always reminds me of people who claim that inter-racial breeding in humans is wrong because it would, you know, pollute the blood. Nature gets up to all kinds of things genetically, and does sometimes transfer DNA from one species into completely different species.

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  34. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    flipper:Opposing GM is just a silly. Well, at least until pigs start to fly.

    Ha! We have the pig genome, and we have the chicken genome It is only a matter of time till we identify the chicken genes responsible for wing formation and transfer them …

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  35. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    Hinamanu:Indian farmers using Monsanto seeds have committed suicide in mass numbers as their crops have failed year after year.

    A prime example of how to take something out of context and scare people. Yes, Indian farmers growing GE crops have committed suicide, but so have farmers growing conventional crops. In fact farmers growing GE crops commit suicide at a lower rate than farmers growing conventional crops, so GE crops have already saved lives!

    Naturally the MSM does not report this carnage but the Alternative media does.

    The BBC and other MSM have in fact carried this story but they gave the full picture rather than half the story like you and the altie media did.

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  36. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    redeye: Probably is if you’ve been farming the same seeds for generations and Monsanto moves in next door.

    So. There is nothing unique to GE here.

    As to the Percy Schmeiser video, you do know that he was found guilty in a court of law don’t you? He was found to be a liar.

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  37. greenjacket (416 comments) says:

    The most likely use of GM in NZ will be either high yield brassicas for feeding dairy cows or drought resistant ryegrass for sheep and cattle. In these cases, the technology is sysgenic – i.e. you are changing the genes from the same species – not incorporating genes from different species. In neither case is any harm likely (animals eat the the grass – peope don’t). I find opposition to even field trials of this incomprehensible.

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  38. redeye (631 comments) says:

    chiz: So. There is nothing unique to GE here

    There is if it (the GE material) contains patented technology. All of a sudden Monsanto owns your crop.

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  39. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    Greenjacket – you mean cisgenic rather than sysgenic.

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  40. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    redeye: There is if it (the GE material) contains patented technology. All of a sudden Monsanto owns your crop

    As I said before, there is nothing unique to GE here.

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  41. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    “If the luddites succeed in banning GE, it won’t be the first time their policies have killed huge numbers of people. For years they campaigned on how biofuels must replace oil…”

    I don’t think you can be a Luddite and at the same be demanding people use a new technology – make up your mind.

    “Indeed, their banning of DDT caused an extra 20 million deaths from malaria”

    DDT wasn’t banned – still used in malarial areas.

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  42. Bob R (1,336 comments) says:

    ***Do not give to charities that feed the starving in sub-Saharan Africa and similar regions unless they also enforce contraception

    The idiot charities have created a lot of the famine by exporting western medical knowledge and food to countries that are not advanced and unable to cope with the resulting population explosions. All the stupid aid does is create war misery and give idiots the warm fuzzys***

    @ Griff,

    Well said. The doubling of the population in the sub-sahara (100 million in 1900, 770 million in 2005, projected 2 billion by 2050) is an avoidable catastrophe.

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  43. redeye (631 comments) says:

    http://voices.yahoo.com/schmeiser-vs-monsanto-debate-over-intellectual-property-5354159.html

    “Conclusion

    In this paper, I reviewed and assessed the relevant facts in Schmeiser v. Monsanto court case. I hope to have proven that Monsanto was given a bad hand by the Canadian Supreme Court. Ultimately, whether Schmeiser intentionally harvested the GMO plant, he couldn’t have been liable. Furthermore, since patentable subject matter must be man made, cross pollenated GM plants are no longer under the patent, its a product of nature. Along with that Schmeiser has a right to save and reuse seeds he found on his property. This case gave a glimpse into the new world of GM plants. The dangerous potential aspect of this is how corporations can and will exploit farmers to dominate a certain market. To be able to prevent this abuse, legislative acts must taken restricting, regulating and outlining the use of GM plants to protect the farmers of the world.”

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  44. thedavincimode (6,530 comments) says:

    If I was a farmer I would be giving GE the finger. Why ruin the brand? If we can only feed 19 million, a drop on the global population bucket, why would we further commoditise what we do by producing GE foods?

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  45. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    AS I stated before there is nothing unique to GE about the Schmeiser case. Plant breeders can, and have, patented plants that were produced without genetic engineering. There have been court cases involving such plants, including, I gather, cases here in NZ and Australia. Company A develops new plant, manages to patent it, discovers that B is growing it without paying royalties and then takes B to court to make them pay up. The only point where GE is relevant is that, historically, it was much easier to recognise a plant variety as being a patented one if it was GE because there was a specific DNA signature to look for. It is only relatively recently that genotyping technology – think of it as DNA fingerprinting for plants – has advanced to the point where this sort of thing can now be done for more conventionally produce plants.

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  46. hj (6,347 comments) says:

    The banning DDT thing is b/s. It was being used will nilly meaning mosquitoes were being subjected to low doses and gaining immunity. It is still used on walls.

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  47. SPC (5,356 comments) says:

    The story is about research developments in the lab – that have been going on here for 20 years.

    Greens oppose field trials done with any risk to the bio-security of the wider environment, not research in the lab.

    Proper regulation of activity whether it be financial, building, industry or farming is simply prudent – even if this corporate salesmanship trying to reduce this. You get a GFC, leaky homes, polluted air and water if you do not.

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  48. wat dabney (3,655 comments) says:

    “Green Power, Black Death”

    http://www.eco-imperialism.com/

    The environmental movement I helped found has lost its objectivity, morality and humanity. The pain and suffering it is inflicting on families in developing countries must no longer be tolerated. Eco-Imperialism is the first book I’ve seen that tells the truth and lays it on the line. It’s a must-read for anyone who cares about people, progress and our planet.

    Patrick Moore, Greenpeace co-founder

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  49. Alimonkey (2 comments) says:

    What is truly amazing is you guys calling the Greens luddites while swallowing the hype about GE feeding the starving millions. Where is the evidence? I can answer that; there is none! GE food has not lived up to its hype. Many crops while modified to achieve a single outcome have become susceptible to other ailments. The only thing GE will achieve is companies like Monsanto controlling the world food supply. Also, from my understanding the Greens oppose field trials not research.

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  50. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    GM crops have been grown across North America and other countries for decades with no great success in increasing crop yields. While GM cotton plants have ended up needing MORE chemicals poured on them than ordinary ones.
    Don’t have the links to hand or time to find them.
    But the idea it is totally bad science OR the saviour of the planet is equally silly.

    We all know that bacteria evolve to ‘outwit’ antibiotics and insects evolve so pesticides become ineffective. So nature just adapts to anything we create.
    Even if if GM crops did someone double yields, like the last green revolution, that just buys some time until the population outstrips supply.
    Though as others have said, it’s not lack of land or food that’s the problem now in most places: it’s wars and local politics.

    ‘Many people feel that genetic engineering is the inevitable wave of the future and that we cannot afford to ignore a technology that has such enormous potential benefits. However, we must proceed with caution to avoid causing unintended harm to human health and the environment as a result of our enthusiasm for this powerful technology.’
    http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.php

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