Fearless Food Forecasts for 2003
January 20, 2003
by Alex A. Avery
Dennis T. Avery
Food continues to be a hot topic worldwide, with claims of impending hunger disasters contending against counter-claims of massive overproduction and chemical pollution. Through the fog of uncertainty, we make these fearless food-related forecasts:
*The TV news shows will give us almost-endless footage of the upcoming famine victims in the drought-stricken regions of Africa. Activists will continue to assert that “natural” food production systems can produce “all the food the world needs” if greedy Americans would just stop eating hamburgers. At the same time they will justify their inhumane campaign to prevent donated American corn from being used to feed the starving.
*Another baseless scare about biotech crops will hit the news headlines, to follow in the illustrious footsteps of:
The Monarch Butterfly Assault of 1999. (Field tests have now confirmed that Monarch butterflies are safer in a biotech cornfield than a conventional one.)
The StarLink Corn Allergy Epidemic of 2000. (Seventeen people claimed they’d suffered allergenic attacks from StarLink, but blood tests showed they hadn’t.)
The Mexican Corn Pollution of 2001. (U.S. biotech yellow corn allegedly invaded the genes of traditional Mexican white corn—without changing its color, which would really be news in the science world).
* Bobby Kennedy Jr. and his Waterkeepers Alliance will be tossed out of yet another state or federal court for again failing to prove their claims that manure from confinement hog farms is polluting the rivers of America. Undeterred, the Waterkeepers’ pro-bono lawyers will continue their campaign to harass scientists who disagree with Waterkeeper contentions of hog pollution by making massive demands for records and threatening to force research grants to be returned.
*The European Union, where subsidized farmers drive Mercedes, will again announce that it cannot ease the global burden of its farm surplus dumping, and that it must continue to bar sugar and cotton from Third World farmers who make $1 a day.
* There will be a major fish kill in some river along America’s Eastern Seaboard. Activists will blame the dead fish on some aspect of modern farming—probably manure or pesticides, but possibly soil erosion. Marine scientists, looking for research grants themselves, will fail to tell us that a certain number of fish kills are naturally inevitable under certain wind and water conditions.
* The Bush administration will continue to vacillate over free trade, which will hamper its announced goal of getting increased access for American farm exports in densely populated Asian nations that need more food. In the wake of the awful steel tariffs, the Bushes will cut a deal letting Mexico keep putting tariffs on U.S. chicken meat, in violation of NAFTA agreements.
* Even so, the Bush White House will be forced to institute a formal complaint in the World Trade Organization against the European Union’s ban on imports of biotech commodities. A decade’s worth of testing, with every test known to science and medicine, has failed to find any danger from the biotech crops. Letting the EU bar international farm trade because it allowed its consumers to be frightened by eco-activists might ultimately leave the First World as short of food as Zambians are today.
* Biotech corn, recently approved in the Philippines, will be as big a success there as biotech cotton was for India in 2002. More than 5 million Third World farmers have now adopted biotech crops (higher yield with far less pest control cost). Biotech corn will make both corn and meat more affordable for Filipino families.
* Fortunately, the world’s farmers in 2003 will again produce a record amount of food, despite the regulatory constraints imposed by well-fed, nostalgic city folks who’d like the farms to look like 1870. Farmers will achieve the higher production without using significantly more cropland than the world farmed last year or 50 years ago—a vital conservation achievement because we’re already farming about half the global land area not covered with deserts or glaciers.
The record crops and yields will encourage still more of the world’s population to wish each other Happy New Year in 2004.
This article appeared in the Knight-Ridder Tribune on January 6, 2002, and is reprinted with permission.
Alex Avery is director of research and education for the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues.
Dennis T. Avery is based in Churchville, VA, and is director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues.