American Elephants

The way things work across the pond… by The Elephant's Child

Sometimes you run across an article that subtly explains how things work. In Europe there have been marches and speeches about the evils of “Frankenfoods” a name bestowed by Greenpeace on genetically engineered seed. Mother Nature has been genetically engineering food for centuries, but when food scientists learn how to make some crops more resistant to their most troublesome pests, it supposedly gets “scary”.

If you have ever been to the museum at Mesa Verde, you can see tiny ears of corn found in the storerooms of the cliff dwellings, only 2″ to 3″ long, and marvel at how Mother Nature turned them into our modern corn.

The population of the earth is expected to rise until 2050 and then begin declining. The industrialized nations of the West mostly have declining birthrates — that is less than the 2.1 babies per mother that makes a stable population. This increasing population is going to require more food. To produce more food on the same amount of farmland, we are going to have to increase yield — unless we want to turn more forest land into farm fields.

Now European farmers have had a chance to grow genetically modified corn crops, and they are getting higher yields and more revenue than conventional growers. “Scientists from the Joint Research Centre, the EU Commission’s scientific body surveyed more than 400 Spanish farmers who grew Bt maize — the only GM crop allowed for cultivation in the EU.” This is the first time scientists have looked into the impact of GM foods in Europe.

There are real economic advantages for farmers since their crops are not destroyed by pests. EU Commission President Jose Barroso wants to remove regulatory obstacles to counter rising food prices. Nicolas Sarkozy, who will take over the presidency tomorrow, calls for more controls. Environmental groups, of course, attack the GM industry for exploiting the global food crisis in order to win EU approval for their products.

This is how things work in the European Union.

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