Friday, August 29, 2003

Taking Our Minds off of the Obesity Epidemic

The World Trade Organization is finally acting on the complaint by the U.S., Canada, and Argentina against the EU for unfairly banning the importation of foods that have been improved with agricultural biotechnology. Not only is it unfair to perpertuate a protectionist regime based on unscientific scare tatics about GM foods, as the Europeans have been doing, the global, down-stream effects are even worse. You may remember the spectacle of the government of Zambia refusing U.S. food aid on behalf of its starving citizens during a severe drought because they thought it might be "contaminated" with GM crop varieties? It wasn't just anti-GM enviornmentalist pressure that caused them to be suspicious, but the EU's agricultural trade restrictions. The government worried that if Zambian famers kept any of the (possibly) GM corn to plant the next Spring, their future crops could be excluded from exports markets in Europe, or anywhere else that shares the EU's excessive precaution. Thus we have a situation where European agricultural officials are starving sub-Saharan Africans with their protectionist trade barriers. The only reason millions more haven't starved to death throughout the Third World over the past few decades is because of exactly the kind of new technology Europe seems to unaccountably afraid of. If the drought-stricken Zambian famers of tomorrow want to be able to keep feeding their children, we're going to need even more men like this.


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