Anti-biotech activists threaten agricultural gains

Texas A&M University professor Norman Borlaug, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in agriculture in 1970, is warning of a growing anti-biotech movement in countries such as India. Fear-mongers, he says, could lead poor countries to back off from use of inorganic fertilisers and synthetic pesticides – risking the return of famines that preceded their introduction.

  • As of 1965, wheat yields were 4.6 million tons in Pakistan and 12.3 million in India – and famine was widespread in both countries.

  • Then Borlaug persuaded both countries to try highly productive dwarf wheat and practise improved integrated crop management.

  • The change has been so successful that this year Pakistan harvested 20 million tons and India brought in 73.5 million tons – all-time records.

  • But now India is considering outlawing inorganic, synthetic fertilisers – which Borlaug fears would seriously diminish the country's ability to feed its one billion people.

    New and improved agricultural technologies have also resulted in enormously higher yields in the U.S.

  • In 1960, U.S. production of the 17 most important food, feed and fibre crops was 252 million tons.

  • By 1999, it had increased to 700 million tons – produced on 10 million fewer acres than were cultivated in 1960.

  • If the U.S. had tried to produce the harvest of 1999 with the technology of 1960, it would have had to increase cultivated areas by about 460 million acres – which it does not have.

    Source: Norman Borlaug (Texas A&M University), We Need Biotech to Feed the World, Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2000.

    For text

    For more on Hunger

  • Help FMF promote the rule of law, personal liberty, and economic freedom become an individual member / donor HERE ... become a corporate member / donor HERE