Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NB

Today is the centennial of Norman Borlaug's birth.  His research in genetics and breeding helped develop wheat with drastically increased yield.  Some say his work saved a billion from starvation.

There was some opposition to his work from environmentalists. (This opposition has, if anything, grown stronger since.)  He had a pretty good answer:

Some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They’ve never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. They have never produced a ton of food. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 60 years, they’d be crying out for fertilizer, herbicides, irrigation canals and tractors and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things.

And:

We all owe a debt of gratitude to the environmental movement that has taken place over the past 40 years. This movement has led to legislation to improve air and water quality, protect wildlife, control the disposal of toxic wastes, protect the soils, and reduce the loss of biodiversity. It is ironic, therefore, that the platform of the antibiotechnology extremists, if it were to be adopted, would have grievous consequences for both the environment and humanity. I often ask the critics of modern agricultural technology: What would the world have been like without the technological advances that have occurred? For those who profess a concern for protecting the environment, consider the positive impact resulting from the application of science-based technology.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

People are free to argue about tactics and there are costs and benefits to all advances.

Asbestos and DDT (just to pick some familiar names) and similar substances have been viewed as an evil yet their initial usage probably helped many. It would seem to be that the clash between the urge to focus on the here and now versus the focus on the more distant future should in the long run coalesce around the best policy. If everyone is pissed off, someone must be doing something right.

8:42 AM, March 25, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going against DDT killed millions.

What Borlaug did is nothing new, scientifically. We've had over fifty years to prove it's dangerous--meanwhile, it's saved a billion lives. Gotta be pretty bad in the future to make up for that.

8:47 AM, March 25, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't anon 2 get it? The left thinks humans are a cancer on the Earth. Saving a billion lives is the most evil thing you can do.

9:46 AM, March 25, 2014  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Nah. Saving TWO billion is twice as evil.

11:20 AM, March 25, 2014  

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