Bill Gates says anti-science ideology threatens fight against hunger

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The fight to end hunger is being hurt by environmentalists who insist that genetically modified crops cannot be used in Africa, says Bill Gates.

Gates said GMO crops, fertilizer and chemicals are important tools — although not the only tools — to help small farms in Africa boost production.

“This global effort to help small farmers is endangered by an ideological wedge that threatens to split the movement in two,” Gates said in his first address on agriculture made during the annual World Food Prize forum.

“Some people insist on an ideal vision of the environment,” Gates said. “They have tried to restrict the spread of biotechnology into sub-Saharan Africa without regard to how much hunger and poverty might be reduced by it.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in recent years has turned its focus to helping poor, small-holder farmers grow and sell more crops as a way to reduce hunger and poverty…

“The next Green Revolution has to be greener than the first,” Gates said. “It must be guided by small-holder farmers, adapted to local circumstances, and sustainable for the economy and the environment.”

The Gates Foundation is working with research partners on drought-tolerant maize using both conventional crop-breeding techniques and biotechnology, Gates said, noting he hopes seeds will be available in two or three years.

The impact of those new varieties could help convince skeptics of the benefits of biotechnology, he said.

The technologies will be licensed royalty free to seed distributors so that the new seeds can be sold to African farmers without extra charge,” Gates said.

He’s right, you know.

I’ll take science over religion – or skeptics whose religion is fear of science – any day. I’ve been an activist for science-based ecology for about 40 years, now. The kind of farming and animal husbandry my family has practiced for centuries has always been natural – which also means frugal 🙂 – and absolutely willing to learn from sound science.

12 thoughts on “Bill Gates says anti-science ideology threatens fight against hunger

  1. PLEASE!!! says:

    The so called technology up to this point have not boosted producion.I HOPE THE SEED BANK SAVE SEEDS FOR US REAL FARMERS!!!!

    • god says:

      The Seed Bank saves Heritage seeds. Useful and productive.

      As useful to hybridizers and GMO researchers as it is to the fearful and Luddites.

      Cripes, guys. At least catch up to Burpee.

  2. Cinaedh says:

    This isn’t about science or religion. It’s about the greed of the companies who create the genetically modified (GM) seeds and their perfectly understandable, corporate desire to gain a monopoly on the food supply of the entire world.

    You see, they own the patents on the GM seeds and all the GM seeds produced by the GM crops.

    It’s illegal for farmers to collect seeds from their own crops and use them the next year. Instead, they have to pay Monsanto or some other corporation every year – no matter how high the price might go.

    Many GM seeds are also deliberately modified to be sterile, so the plants don’t produce any seeds to be used in succeeding years. It’s called ‘protecting your patent’.

    When all the real seeds are gone, what choice will the farmers have?

    In Canada, Monsanto tried to sue a farmer out of existence for ‘patent infringement’ when they found a few of ‘their’ GM plants growing in his fields. It seems the plants, as plants often do, cross pollinated and didn’t realize they were cross pollinating to a neighbor field, one where the farmer hadn’t paid Monsanto.

    Since we can’t very well live without food, it’s the perfect target for corporations, even better than tobacco, alcohol, gasoline or other addictive substances.

    As for the safety of the GM seeds and foods, you want me to trust Bill Gates on this one? The guy who ‘secured’ Windows and Internet Explorer over the past 20 years?

    You must be joking!

    How evil and greedy (or stupid) can this guy get? Apparently, it’s infinite.

    • god says:

      You have to start reading more – even online. All your criticisms are apt – and 5 or 10 years out of date.

      If you RTFA, it ends with Gates committing to the exact opposite of Monsanto’s practice of using seed patents. Which in itself has been overturned in Europe and elsewhere.

      Finally, Gates isn’t doing the genetic studies and research. This is not Microsoft designing GM foods any more than they paid for the hybrid crops you’ve been eating for generations. Did you think you were only eating heritage food?

      The science involved in the process only allows for more accuracy and speed. Some will be turned to the end of greedy corporations. Some will be open source. Some will succeed and some will not.

      Just as all science has been used.

      • Cinaedh says:

        As it happens, I don’t believe anything god tells me… or bill gates either, for that matter, especially when it’s not really apt.

        There’s always a ‘catch’ with those two and it’s almost always Catch-22.

  3. Mr. Fusion says:

    I disagree with Gates on this one. Disagreement with manipulated foods, especially those involving gene manipulating, is not proven science. The science actually warns against it.

    While the “Africanized Bee” and “Gypsy Moth” are only two examples. Their impact is seen when we play with nature without knowing what we are doing..

    As the Monsanto cross-pollination demonstrates. once in the open, GM foods can propagate. Even if some natural seeds are kept, they don’t have enough to resupply the entire world if there is some catastrophe.

  4. moss says:

    Sorry my friends; but, you’re limiting yourselves to a narrow view of the breadth of genetic research around the globe. There is no need to throw up your hands and say “this mustn’t be done!”

    What Gates addressed was the waste of time and energy from fear – instead of dedicating all energies to trying to feed the most people.

    Testing and proofing new seed is no different from any techniques required of hybridizing for the past century. All hybrids are the result of gene manipulation. Always have been.

    No doubt he’s already working with scientists to develop GM seed outside Monsanto patents. He’s already committed to open-source the new patents. He will have no problem finding producers who are willing to compete with Monsanto.

    • Mr. Fusion says:

      Testing and proofing new seed is no different from any techniques required of hybridizing for the past century. All hybrids are the result of gene manipulation. Always have been.

      Not entirely true.

      Traditional manipulation has depended upon exploiting the desired characteristics of the species through breeding. Genetically Modified in today’s world involves the addition of foreign genes into the cells. Yes, that would include inserting a fish gene into wheat or a clam gene into broccoli.

      The term “franken food” may be a little severe, but it does have some basis. Most of the GM food produced today has only been peripherally tested. It is also less nutritional or flavorful as they are lost in favor of faster and larger growth, slower spoilage and a more perfect appearance. Compare summer garden tomatoes to winter store bought tomatoes.

      The second area where Gates errs is in the treatment of the problem instead of fixing the problem. By exploiting the growing of more food to feed the hungry ignores the fact there are too many people. Birth control should be the number one issue.

      Cultivating more acreage is wrong and is part of the problem. Every day more of the tropical forests are cut down for farm land. These forests are the major CO2 sinks and O2 providers for the world. Yes, adding CO2 from fossil fuels is wrong, but it only compounds the problem when we destroy the very vegetation that would remove that CO2.

      (Damn am I glad there is spellcheck in FF. I don’t normally use such big words 🙂 )

      • god says:

        Tropical, yes. Forests, no. Not in Africa in most cases. Usually Savannah and grasslands are what’s farmed.

        Telling people who are starving they should have had fewer kids may is a useful long-range solution. One they will arrive at themselves with non-church education. Meanwhile, they’re still hungry.

        At the DNA level, there is little that could properly be called fish genes or clam genes – or wheat and rice genes. They are bits of protein, etc..

        For micro-biologists, there are only building blocks.

        • Mr. Fusion says:

          At the DNA level, there is little that could properly be called fish genes … They are bits of protein,

          That is the equivalent of saying the Beatles White Album CD is just a bunch of zeros and ones.

          Most current over population stems from the concept that large families are a must due to infant mortality. With modern medicine and improved diets infant mortality (and indeed all mortality) has decreased. Keeping people alive is a good thing. Now that the reason for large families is gone, lets give them a reason not to have more than one or two.

          Although, we could tech them to be Liebertarians and watch them self destruct. 😉

          • god says:

            As far as a recording studio is concerned – a reasonable parallel to the process concerned – your analogy is spot on.

            The creative stuff happens before and after – direction and analysis.

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