Friday, August 22, 2008

hear hear

The great Paul Collier has a piece on Comment is Free on the EU's GM ban:

The GM ban has three adverse effects. It has retarded productivity in European agriculture; grain production could be increased by about 15% were the ban lifted. More subtly, because Europe is out of the market for GM technology, the pace of research has slowed. GM research takes a long time to come to fruition, and its core benefit - the permanent reduction of global food prices - cannot fully be captured through patents. European governments should be funding this research, but it is entirely reliant on the private sector. Private money for research depends on the prospect of sales, so the ban has not only blocked public research - it has reduced private research.

However, the worst consequence of the European ban is that it has terrified African governments - with the exception of South Africa - into banning genetic modification. They fear that growing modified crops would shut them out of European markets. Because Africa banned GM, there was no market for discoveries pertinent to the crops that Africa grows, and so no research. In turn, this has led to the critique that GM is irrelevant for Africa.

...

Europe can afford romanticism, but the African poor cannot. The return to organic peasant agriculture is an appealing fantasy with disturbing consequences. The GM ban has already persisted for 12 years: how much more hunger must be endured before it is faced down?

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