Norman Borlaug has an opinion piece that is sure to be unread and unheeded until, say, next year, when bread is five dollars a loaf. Borlaug is the great Green Revolution agronomist. Let’s just say that the Green Revolution gave us ambiguous results – while the Soviets collectivized their farms, the capitalist world treated its agricultural sector to a form of shock therapy, agroteching their way to global corporate farming monstrosities, and the resulting flight from the peasant pea patch to the barrio and bidonville is going to rule our world for a long time. But that is the way the world food supply went. So, if you are going to ruthlessly exterminate varieties and promote monoculture through the length and breadth of the planet, you better be prepared for the consequences – blights that can quickly wipe out the vulnerable predominant strand. This is where the fun stops in the evolution debate, which isn’t just about whether we should create even dumber American yokels than we are wont to mill out of our schools – natural selection as a fact about the relationship between species and environment can come gunning for you, hypocrite lecteur.
First, a little history:
“WITH food prices soaring throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America, and shortages threatening hunger and political chaos, the time could not be worse for an epidemic of stem rust in the world’s wheat crops. Yet millions of wheat farmers, small and large, face this spreading and deadly crop infection.
The looming catastrophe can be avoided if the world’s wheat scientists pull together to develop a new generation of stem-rust-resistant varieties of wheat. But scientists must quickly turn their attention to replacing almost all of the commercial wheat grown in the world today. This will require a commitment from many nations, especially the United States, which has lately neglected its role as a leader in agricultural science.
Stem rust, the most feared of all wheat diseases, can turn a healthy crop of wheat into a tangled mass of stems that produce little or no grain. The fungus spores travel in the wind, causing the infection to spread quickly. It has caused major famines since the beginning of history. In North America, huge grain losses occurred in 1903 and 1905 and from 1950 to ’54.”
Then a little natural history:
“Today, wheat provides about 20 percent of the food calories for the world’s people. The world wheat harvest now stands at about 600 million metric tons.
In the last decade, global wheat production has not kept pace with rising population, or the increasing per capita demand for wheat products in newly industrializing countries. At the same time, international support for wheat research has declined significantly. And as a consequence, in 2007-08, world wheat stocks (as a percentage of demand) dropped to their lowest level since 1947-48. And prices have steadily climbed to the highest level in 25 years.
The new strains of stem rust, called Ug99 because they were discovered in Uganda in 1999, are much more dangerous than those that, 50 years ago, destroyed as much as 20 percent of the American wheat crop. Today’s lush, high-yielding wheat fields on vast irrigated tracts are ideal environments for the fungus to multiply, so the potential for crop loss is greater than ever.”
And then, of course, the natural history of our Great Fly, that glorious combination of cretinism and short term advantage that we’ve all grown to know and love:
“The Bush administration was initially quick to grasp Ug99’s threat to American wheat production. In 2005, Mike Johanns, then secretary of agriculture, instructed the federal agriculture research service to take the lead in developing an international strategy to deal with stem rust. In 2006, the Agency for International Development mobilized emergency financing to help African and Asian countries accelerate needed wheat research.
But more recently, the administration has begun reversing direction. The State Department is recommending ending American support for the international agricultural research centers that helped start the Green Revolution, including all money for wheat research. And significant financial cuts have been proposed for important research centers, including the Department of Agriculture’s essential rust research laboratory in St. Paul.
This shocking short-sightedness goes against the interests not only of American wheat farmers and consumers but of all humanity. It is tantamount to the United States abandoning its pledge to help halve world hunger by 2015.”
Imagine that – the U.S. breaking a promise!
Meanwhile, back in the the District of Columbian Ass-licking, the Washington Post article about the food riots is, of course, larded with the usual praise of the Great Fly – I am rather surprised that the Post hasn’t yet started calling him The Father of the People:
But administration officials and legislative aides acknowledge that they have only recently begun to focus on the severity of the problem, and humanitarian groups fear that assistance from the United States, which already supplies about half of the world's total food aid, may come too late to provide much benefit in the near term.
The mounting crisis, which has unseated Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Édouard Alexis and prompted riots throughout the developing world, provides a particular challenge for President Bush during his final months in office. Although Bush has received many positive reviews for his initiatives to combat HIV-AIDS and malaria, he is hobbled by dismal approval ratings and bitter relations with a Democratic Congress during a presidential election year.”
Oh, the positive reviews on issues having nothing whatsoever to do with food! Surely they could have larded it with better ass licking than that, however. I would have suggested something like: “Although Bush has received many positive reviews on the massive size of his dick, a priapus that promises plentiful rainfall and prosperity for all Christian Americans…”
We live in Great Times, times of the fulfilment of prophecy, when the ludicrous and the murderous have merged into one soul destroying blob. So excellent!
We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we
had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in
desolate places as dead men. Isaiah 59:10