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.