By Heather Callaghan, Editor
Recently, investment banker David S. Levin was given the platform of CNBC Africa to tell African readers why GMOs are a wonderful thing that they should accept post haste. His piece is a “A New York investor’s view of Africa and other emerging economies.”
As you read the following quote from it, tell me what you think the intended age of his target audience was when as he was writing the op-ed – three years old? Five?:
I’ve always loved a really good magic trick. The kind that makes you think to yourself, “there’s no way he did that…” A few years ago, I went to one of those over-the-top, magic shows in Las Vegas while I was on vacation. During the performance, the magician did this trick where he took a fluffy, white rabbit and put it into his black top hat. He showed the audience the inside of the hat first to prove that it was completely empty. Then, once the rabbit was inside, he put the hat on a table that was on-stage with him, waved his hands above it, mumbled some magical, mumbo jumbo, and then presto, one by one, proceeded to pull out ten or so beautiful, white doves.
How did he do that???
Well, in a lot of ways, that magic trick was kind of like what genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are to farming. Because GMOs are also magical. They’re transformative. And they work…
And here I always thought GMOs were nothing more than stark, cold hard science. Turns out, it’s a bunch of wibbly wobbly timey wimey magic stuff…
Keeping his simplistic tone, Levin goes on to explain Africa’s food shortage issue and a world’s booming population as being a “bad combination.” 2.4 billion people by 2050 is “a lot of mouths to feed,” he tells the Africans. He insists that more drought conditions are inevitable and that the soil is damaged.
“In many ways, GMOs are like that magic trick from the show in Las Vegas. They make one bunny into ten white doves. Put simply, as it relates to Africa, they help to produce better performing crops in otherwise inhospitable and challenging environments,” he adds.
“[Africa’s] soil is hurting and its skies have been dry,” he says. But – “Science and GMOs are like the magic fairy dust that can give Africa, and much of the rest of the developing world, the ability to feed more of their people. ”
How many of you have got your fingers on “the race card” as we speak? Haven’t his stereotypes and condescension crossed the line? Dirt hurt, sky dry…
With his favorite tool, the broad-stroked brush, he paints the left as the entire opposition to GMOs and warns that “part of the problem” of presumably getting to that magic sweet stuff is “consumers [who are] poorly educated with respect to GMOs, and simply allow social media and negative media buzz to shape their thinking. ”
We’ll give him this, weather changes have always dashed the hopes and dreams of farmers since the beginning of human history. But that’s where actual cross-breeding, not genetic engineering, come in to play.
How is it that Chinese researchers have pulled off fertile, drought resistant crops without the help of a gene-gun and spliced e.coli? They have solved a historical and global problem without the threat of damaging the entire ecology through transgenic material known to absorb into the very weeds it was created to withstand. Could that be the real reason for superweeds, and not simply pesticide resistance?
Maybe Mr. Levin, with the help of some hand puppets, could explain to Africa that there are other, less ecologically damaging and more cost effective ways of feeding their nation. These options offer more yields and greater farmer independence. They require comparably smaller amounts of pesticides which are not sold by the same company offering the biotech seed.
Of course, these options are not publicly traded at this time, and some people may find those options less appealing. Or should I say “bad, bad, no, no” while waving my arms like an umpire at a softball little league game…