NOTE: Of late Dennis Avery has been concentrating on denying climate change science and so has had less time for his more customary tasks of promoting GMOs, pesticides and plastics, or trashing 'killer' organics. And we're missing the old fraud so much we've decided to dig him up and give him one more outing.
Biotech Holds The Solution to Africa's Food Woes / Biotech crops do aid world's poor, says Dennis Avery
Here's Dennis Avery at his rollicking best, co-authoring a piece on how GM crops are transforming the lives of the world's poor - item 1.
You can forgot all the evidence of the failure of Bt cotton to outperform conventional cotton economically in India, and of emerging Bt pest resistance and other problems in China.
According to Dennis:
'In China and India, more than 5 million small cotton farmers have doubled their incomes thanks to the lower costs and higher yields of pest-resistant biotech cotton.'
And it's not just the farmers whose lives have been transformed:
'The benefits of the pest-resistant cotton carry over to the millions of Indian and Chinese textile workers.'
Without GM cotton, Avery suggests, they would be out of business!
And GM's benefits don't stop there:
'There's also a benefit to the farmer who no longer has to carry a backpack sprayer as he sprays in front of himself and walks barelegged through his own pesticide spray patterns 20 times a season.'
This compassionate concern over the dangers of pesticides comes, of course, from the author of the infamously titled book, 'Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastic'.
But as well as enjoying Avery's latest fantasy in support of the current sales pitch of the agrochemical industry, why not check out the second item below, his earlier piece, 'Biotech Holds The Solution to Africa's Food Woes: The New Technology, By Deliverying Virus-Resistant Crops, Is Starting To Provide Food Security for Africa'.
In this Avery recounts how Florence Wambugu produced African sweet potatoes with the assistance of Monsanto that 'resist the feathery mottle virus-thus yielding 20 percent to 80 percent more food. This one breakthrough will improve food security and health for millions of African families.'
In fact, as we recently noted in awarding Wambugu a PANTS ON FIRE award, the actual results of the trials on Monsanto's GM sweet potatoes showed that far from out-yielding the non-GM sweet potatoes by 20-80 per cent, as Avery claims: 'non-transgenic crops used as a control yielded much more tuber compared to the transgenic'! The GM crop was also found to be susceptible to viral attack - the very thing it had been designed to resist.
So how this 'breakthrough' will 'improve food security and health for millions of African families' remains unclear but in the meantime, thanks to the likes of Avery and Wambugu, there's been great PR value for Monsanto.
Avery, whose work at the Hudson Institute is supported by Monsanto, DuPont, Novartis, ConAgra, DowElanco and others who profit from the sale of products prohibited in organic production, has also famously claimed that organic farming if widely adoped would lead to mass starvation. Organic farming is also more likely to poison you. Avery's claims have given rise to such newspaper headlines around the world as 'Organic food -- It's eight times more likely to kill you'.
In a well-received speech at a biotech conference in London in 2002, Avery claimed anti-biotech activists 'sided with terrorists' and formed 'human shields for Arafat, leader in chief of the suicide bombers.' In a newspaper article that same year he claimed that the rest of the world would soon be so grateful to the US for its GMOs that the terrorists would turn their anger exclusively on GMO-resistant Europe.
Dennis certainly knows how to smoke out a good story!
For Wambugu's pants http://www.gmwatch.org/p2temp2.asp?aid=59&page=1&op=2
For more on Avery http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=15&page=A
Bogus Research from Avery http://ngin.tripod.com/averylies.htm
Avery's comic highlights / Avery over London http://ngin.tripod.com/291102b.htm
1.Biotech crops do aid world's poor
June 11, 2004
Rudy Boschwitz and Dennis Avery
The Star Tribune's May 22 editorial 'Biotech crops / Little benefit for world's poor' included this complaint about the development of genetically modified crops:
'The crops that have come into production since 1987 -- corn, cotton, canola and soybeans -- are important chiefly to agriculture on an industrial scale. There has been comparatively little interest in genetically strengthening the crops most significant to the world's agriculture-dependent poor, such as cassava, millet, sorghum and rice.'
It's not surprising that costly early biogenetic seed research be directed at crops earning a return on that investment.
The editorial also said that providing biotech's benefits to poor countries would require 'massive investment in public research and development.'
We would love to see more public investment in biotech for the Third World -- but if we had depended on public dollars spent through a bureaucracy, neither rich nor poor would have yet realized any benefit from this revolutionary technology.
Despite the assertion of the Star Tribune headline, it is remarkable how much genetically modified benefit has already accrued to poor countries from even the early stages of biotech.
In the Philippines, insect-resistant biotech corn varieties are yielding up to 80 percent more grain than farmers' non-biotech varieties because the tropical pests are vastly more voracious than those in Minnesota.
In China and India, more than 5 million small cotton farmers have doubled their incomes thanks to the lower costs and higher yields of pest-resistant biotech cotton. There's also a benefit to the farmer who no longer has to carry a backpack sprayer as he sprays in front of himself and walks barelegged through his own pesticide spray patterns 20 times a season.
The benefits of the pest-resistant cotton carry over to the millions of Indian and Chinese textile workers. (Cotton is by far the largest total employer in both countries, and the pink bollworm had put those industries under threat.)
Potato breeders have created the world's first blight-resistant potato. Densely populated Third World countries have become increasingly dependent on potatoes because of the ultra-high food production per acre.
An Israeli researcher has applied for a permit to field-test Roundup-ready corn in Africa.
One of the worst pests for small farmers in Africa is witchweed. It's parasitic, entering the corn plant through its roots and often taking half the crop. A farmer doesn't even know it's there until his cornstalk sprouts a bright red flower instead of an ear of grain.
The Israeli is betting that soaking herbicide-tolerant corn seeds in systemic herbicide will kill the witchweed and allow the corn to flourish.
We agree with Norman Borlaug -- Nobel Peace Prize winner, father of the Green Revolution and honorary chairman of our center -- that even at these early stages, biogenetic research has particular promise for Third World.
Whether to feed the hungry, or to prevent forests from being cleared for more low-yield crops (thereby further endangering Africa's wildlife), biotech -- even at these early stages -- is playing a meaningful role.
Biotech truly promises brightens the future for the poorest of the poor: the small rural farmers of the Third World.
Rudy Boschwitz, a former U.S. senator (1978-91), is chairman of the Center for Global Food Issues. Dennis Avery is director of the Center for Global Food Issues.
2.Biotech Holds The Solution to Africa's Food Woes
The New Technology, By Deliverying Virus-Resistant Crops, Is Starting To Provide Food Security for Africa
By Dennis T. Avery of the Hudson Institute
CHURCHVILLE,Va.-Florence Wambugu spent 10 years at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute trying to breed higher-yielding sweet potatoes. She used conventional plant breeding methods and got nowhere.
Then she got the chance to take her knowledge of African sweet potatoes to a First World biotech laboratory.
The collaboration produced African sweet potatoes that resist the 'feathery mottle' virus-thus yielding 20 percent to 80 percent more food. This one breakthrough will improve food security and health for millions of African families.
Who would fund such an important, farsighted humanitarian effort?
It was, in fact, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Monsanto Co., the St. Louis agriculture technology company supposedly trying to force European housewives to buy genetically based 'Frankenstein foods.'
Now comes the real kicker. The virus-resistant strain of sweet potatoes developed in Monsanto's Life Sciences Research Center are still awaiting biosafety permits for field trials in Kenya.
Meanwhile, the environmental group Greenpeace promotes a global ban on biotechnology in food. Some days, I despair of those rich First Worlders-people with access to grocery stores overflowing with safe, inexpensive, high-tech food-who recommend low-yield farming to people still trying to stave off malnutrition.
At its essence, Greenpeace's self-serving and anti-conservationist campaign to ban biotechnology in food comes down to this: Europe, which has a food surplus, is trying to scare Africa into banning a technology that could save millions of lives and huge tracts of wildlife.
Africa is still the world's poorest continent, struggling to generate enough good government and economic productivity to provide such modern basics such as adequate food, clean water and literacy to a still-growing population.
Most of Africa's countries have 25 percent to 75 percent of their populations living on less than $1 a day. It's also the only continent where the human population may double. The current level is around 750 million.
Low-crop yields and food insecurity play a large role in Africa's problems. The poorest, hungriest people in the world also have the most births, apparently an instinctive reaction to the threat of extinction.
British economist Tim Dyson recently projected an African food shortfall of nearly 90 million tons a year by 2025 unless the continent's food yields begin climbing faster.
Africa is unlikely to have the cash to import much food, so the likely alternative will be clearing more wildlife habitat for low-yield crops.
Because the continent's grain yields are so low, Africa would have to clear 70 million hectares (172.9 million acres) of forest and savanna-the land area of the entire country of Zambia. Africa averages about 1.7 tons of corn per hectare, compared with a world average of 4.1 tons.
One of the biggest corn-growing problems is the maize streak virus. Researchers are trying to genetically engineer corn varieties that can resist the virus. Conventional plant breeding has never overcome a viral disease, but biotech has already done it in sweet potatoes, rice and bananas.
This summer's Southern African economic summit examined the potential of virus-resistant corn and potatoes, borer-resistant sugar cane and fungus-resistant varieties of corn and fruit. Drought-prone Africa is even more interested in the potential for genetically engineering drought-tolerant crops.
Historically, the acid soils of Africa have been a major stumbling block to higher yields, cutting crop yields by up to 80 percent. Genetically engineered acid-soil crops could radically alter Africa's crop-production potential.
And that brings us back to Kenya's Florence Wambugu.
'Local farmers are benefiting from tissue-culture technologies for banana, sugar cane, pyrethrum, cassava and other crops,' she points out. 'There is every reason to believe they will also benefit from the crop-protection transgenic technologies in the pipeline.'
There is, she says, 'the potential to double African production if viral diseases are controlled using transgenic technology.'
Greenpeace might also want to listen to Muffy Koch, South Africa's director of innovation biotechnology.
Discussing biotech fields she has visited, Koch observes that 'bird species that hadn't been seen in years' are reappearing in fields that no longer have to be chemically sprayed. That's just one example of why Africa needs biotech food crops.
Provided to Lumen Foods by and with the permission of author Dennis T. Avery. Mr. Avery is based in Churchville, Va., and is director of global food issues for the Hudson Institute of Indianapolis.