His Royal Highness, the Dunce of Wales, Speaks Against Biotech Crops
The Daily Telegraph reports:
The mass development of genetically modified crops risks causing the world's worst environmental disaster, The Prince of Wales has warned.
In his most outspoken intervention on the issue of GM food, the Prince said that multi-national companies were conducting an experiment with nature which had gone "seriously wrong"….
Relying on "gigantic corporations" for food, he said, would result in "absolute disaster".
"That would be the absolute destruction of everything… and the classic way of ensuring there is no food in the future," he said.
"What we should be talking about is food security not food production—that is what matters and that is what people will not understand.
"And if they think its somehow going to work because they are going to have one form of clever genetic engineering after another then again count me out, because that will be guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time."
Small farmers, in particular, would be the victims of "gigantic corporations" taking over the mass production of food.
"I think it's heading for real disaster," he said.
"If they think this is the way to go….we [will] end up with millions of small farmers all over the world being driven off their land into unsustainable, unmanageable, degraded and dysfunctional conurbations of unmentionable awfulness."
There's a tremendous amount of anti-biotech misinformation packed into this interview. First and foremost, farmers in both developed and developing countries will not adopt biotech crops unless they benefit from them, either from greater productivity, fewer input costs, improved sustainability or all three.
Let's consider just a few cases: Biotech insect-resistant corn in the Philippines boosted yields by 37 percent, reduced the costs of insecticide spraying by 60 percent, maintained populations of beneficial insects in the fields, and increased farmers' profits by 88 percent. With regard to sustainability, herbicide-resistant biotech crops make soil saving no-till farming more possible and new varieties of biotech rice reduce the run-off of nitrogen fertilizer that can damage waterways. Finally, His Royal Witless ignores the fact that of the 12 million farmers who have adopted biotech crops, 11 million of them are resource-poor farmers working in developing countries.
Being the lord of a stately Yorkshire Gloucestershire manor, the prince evidently doesn't realize that people who escape rural poverty generally live better in cities.
The next and future king also attacks the Green Revolution which saved hundreds of millions of lives. Not only that, by dramatically boosting yields, the Green Revolution saved more than 100 million acres of forests and other natural landscapes in India alone from being plowed down to produce food. Around the world, high yield crops spared millions of square miles of wildlands from the plow.
If you want to read more of the nonsense being propounded by Britain's future monarch, go here.
Addendum: A number of academic biologists on a agricultural listserv that I monitor are complaining that the Telegraph's editors are apparently refusing to post their comments in favor of biotech crops.