Friday, October 14, 2005

What Were the Odds?

We read an opinion column today by two Nobel Peace Prize recipients, one of whom is Jimmy Carter. It's hard to believe, but the opinions expressed in the piece are not loony (subscription only link): - Food for Thought: "By NORMAN BORLAUG and JIMMY CARTER
The past 50 years have been the most productive period in global agricultural history, leading to the greatest reduction in hunger the world has ever seen. The Green Revolution, as this period came to be known in the developing world, has kept more than one billion people from hunger, starvation, and even death.

Many factors contributed to the Green Revolution. The doubling of the global area under irrigation was certainly important. But at the core was the development and application of new high-yielding, disease- and insect-resistant seeds, new products to restore soil fertility and control pests, and a succession of agricultural machines to ease drudgery and speed everything from planting to harvesting."
Indeed the science and technology unleased by capitalism have decisively refuted the Malthusian view that expanding population would swamp food production and lead to massive starvation. Of course, some people are not happy about this:
"However, agricultural science is increasingly under attack by groups and individuals who, for political rather than scientific reasons, are campaigning to limit advances, especially in new fields such as genetic modification (GM) through biotechnology. Despite this opposition, it is likely that 250 million acres will be planted to GM crops in 2005. Most of this acreage is in the industrialized world, although the area in middle-income developing countries is expanding rapidly. However, the debate over biotechnology in the industrialized countries continues to impede its acceptance in most poor, food-insecure countries."
This is all spot on and directly counter to the hysteria that dominates much of Europe and even has its adherents here in the US. Obviously, this Norman Borlaug must be quite a guy, if he can bring Jimmy Carter to a soft landing on earth. According to his biography, Borlaug was a "central figure in the 'green revolution,'" and his background appears to be completely free of Marxist or socialist ideology, anti-semitism, and anti-Americanism.

It's hard to believe someone like this could slip past the Nobel committee and actually win the Peace Prize. The only explanation we can think of is that the committee must have seen the words in the term "Green Revolution" and mistaken it for "Green Party" activism and violent imposition of communist dictatorships. Pretty sloppy work on the committee's part. Our only other question is: What has Borlaug done with the real Jimmy Carter?

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