Reason magazine recently looked back at an Economist article published during 2002 that highlighted the ban on the importation of American food that was made from genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). Consequenty, the lives of 15 million Africans were put at risk and the population of countries who banned GMO’s had been consuming them for many years and, despite Zambia’s then-president Levy Mwanawasa’s claim that GMO’s were poison.
Europe has not banned the importation of GMO’s per se, but it does have mandatory food labeling laws and thanks to scare campaigns on the continent, many Europeans are convinced are bad for them. This, in turn, hurts African food importation while African countries refuse US food aid.
Sadly, the people who pay the ultimate price for such superstitious nonsense are African citizens. A recent study revealed that the introduction of disease-resistant fruits and vegetables in Africa, especially Nigeria where malnourishment is widespread, would help save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives over a period of ten years. Delaying GMO’s not only results in a reduced cost of living in Africa but also ratchets up the death toll.
Fewer manufactured food results in a higher likelihood that people (especially Africans) will starve and even die of hunger. While the alternative pitched by anti-GMO activists is organic food, what proponents leave out is that organic food cannot be grown fast enough to satisfy human nutritional needs since it is more labor intensive. Using organic methods on farmland would only be able to feed two-thirds of the world’s population. It’s easy to protest GMO’s when the ones doing it aren’t going hungry and have access to lots of food. Then again, that is the point of environmentalist’s opposition to GMO’s isn’t it?