Bjorn Lomborg writing that 8m kids worldwide have died over the past 12 years because Western and local activists prevented the arrival of rice that is genetically modified to possess an abundance of Vitamin A:
Finally, after a 12-year delay caused by opponents of genetically modified foods, so-called “golden rice” with vitamin A will be grown in the Philippines. Over those 12 years, about 8 million children worldwide died from vitamin A deficiency. Are anti-GM advocates not partly responsible?
Golden rice is the most prominent example in the global controversy over GM foods, which pits a technology with some risks but incredible potential against the resistance of feel-good campaigning. Three billion people depend on rice as their staple food, with 10 percent at risk for vitamin A deficiency, which, according to the World Health Organization, causes 250,000 to 500,000 children to go blind each year. Of these, half die within a year. A study from the British medical journal the Lancet estimates that, in total, vitamin A deficiency kills 668,000 children under the age of 5 each year.
Yet, despite the cost in human lives, anti-GM campaigners—from Greenpeace to Naomi Klein—have derided efforts to use golden rice to avoid vitamin A deficiency.
Great piece by a brilliant guy.
These fights are like every other one in a developing environment: West wants South to avoid its own past
"mistakes" and demands they develop in "pure" fashion. Result is stunted development and wasted lives. Truth of history is this: if you want people to care about the environment, get them richer first and then they'll care. Until then, expect a local rise in pollutions and other things because there really aren't any magical short-cuts on development. Plus, quite frankly, the damage done while still poor vastly outranks the cumulative damage inflicted by the income/industrial rise. But basic point: don't be a hypocrit and expect the poor to atone for your past excesses.
On the GMO, the West's enviro case is far weaker. There is no evidence of substantial risk and plenty of evidence of substantial gain. This is simply rich people who can afford organic pretending they're doing good by telling the poor to hold out for it - or else.
Expect a lot more fights as climate change exacerbates droughts in food-vulnerable regions and well-meaning Northerners do their best to prevent the application of genuine solutions.