Dispatches from the Biowars


Greenpeace cofounder-cum-defector Patrick Moore has a piece in the new American Enterprise on the battle over biotech, including a nice description of how the tide turned in India:

For six years, anti-biotech activists managed to prevent the introduction of G.M. crops in India. This was largely the work of Vandana Shiva, the Oxford-educated daughter of a wealthy Indian family, who has campaigned relentlessly to "protect" poor farmers from the ravages of multinational seed companies. In 2002, she was given the Hero of the Planet award by Time magazine for "defending traditional agricultural practices."

Read: poverty and ignorance. It looked like Shiva would win the G.M. debate until 2001, when unknown persons illegally planted 25,000 acres of Bt cotton in Gujarat. The cotton bollworm infestation was particularly bad that year, and there was soon a 25,000 acre plot of beautiful green cotton in a sea of brown. The local authorities were notified and decided that the illegal cotton must be burned. This was too much for the farmers, who could now clearly see the benefits of the Bt variety. In a classic march to city hall with pitchforks in hand, the farmers protested and won the day. Bt cotton was approved for planting in March 2002. One hopes the poverty-stricken cotton farmers of India will become wealthier and deprive Vandana Shiva of her parasitical practice.