Sunday, March 31, 2013

Green Revolution Tried to Solve Poverty

From the Heartland, Margot McMillen writes: This morning I had the privilege of talking to a Forum, sort of a Sunday morning gathering of the Unitarians in Columbia. Some of the gatherers were emeritus professors from Mizzou that remembered the Green Revolution and Norman Borlaug with great fondness. Howard said I should have started the talk with a salute to those times because there’s no doubt that they were acting from the best parts of their hearts. They thought that by sharing American seeds and know-how with farmers all over the world they’d solve the problems of hunger and poverty. Now, of course, we know that the unexpected consequence was the unplanned change of all the crops raised around the world. Rather than solve poverty, we increased rural poverty by taking away the traditions of saving seeds that would have been free to farmers and adapted to their ecosystems. Unfortunately, I didn’t start the talk with the salute but with the U.S.D.A. statistic that Americans eat 12% more pounds of food today than in 1970. As I often say to my young friends, I hope you can solve the problems that we’ve created. When I got home another friend on the phone was complaining about the Missouri legislature and their new ideas about how to ensure that “modern farming practices” are “forever guaranteed” under the constitution. “Whatever they want, I’m against it,” said my friend. He was talking about HJR 7&11 and SJR 22. “Modern farming practices” are not defined in these bills. This is a major problem because these “future” practices could be anything (from corporate controlled CAFOs, to cloned animals, to robot tractors, to complete control of the seed supply…). Well, it’s Easter, and a bunch of neighbors were taking a trail ride but I got home too late to go along. Still, in a sidebar too long to start on, we found a home for an orphaned puppy, shepherd/lab/husky mix. So the day wasn’t a total bust.

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