During an election year, it is expected that partisans circle the wagons. This week I saw no less than four science media articles contending that the left is awesome in its science acceptance and the right is horrible, despite there being overwhelming evidence and a whole book debunking that feel-good fallacy. No one in mainstream science media is going to criticize President Obama if it means any chance a Republican would get votes from anyone in science (there isn't, that is why all politicians ignore science). When it comes to GMO foods, activists are at least not completely in the bag for anyone. They'll still vote Democrat, if they vote at all, but they will complain.
Even if that Democrat is feeding poor people in Africa.
Why? Obviously the solution for people who have a hard time growing crops in difficult conditions is science but science takes a backseat when it comes to food, especially if that science has the word 'genetic' in it. Glenn Ashton at The South African Civil Society Information Service calls countries trying to help "The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse" and apparently President Obama is riding that pale horse. Easy enough for him to lay it out there, he is not in America so he doesn't much worry about left-wing villagers surrounding his house with pitchforks and torches.
But is it fair to charge President Obama with a misanthropic desire to control African commodities, land and seeds as some 21st century effort at neo-colonialism? No, not really. Americans can't win there, it seems. While Pres. George W. Bush was in office and the left hammered him mercilessly for things Obama does still today, it took a true liberal, Mr. Live Aid himself Bob Geldof, to come to his defense, saying, "You'll think I'm off my trolley when I say this, but the Bush administration is the most radical - in a positive sense - in its approach to Africa since Kennedy."
Where Pres. Obama does deserve criticism is for repackaging work by Bush and then calling it his own, including in Africa. I was critical of Obama for canceling the Constellation program and then announcing his own space plan. I compared it to something as crazy as Nixon canceling the Apollo Program because it had Kennedy's name on it and starting his own. Ashton rightly notes that while Obama pledged $22 billion in African aid, only 12% of that money was anything different than what Bush had already signed off on - and then Obama only delivered half of it anyway. Clearly if rich, organic food buying liberals in America are choosing who to lead America, they choose Obama. If Africans got to pick our next president, it would be Bush again.
Yet conservatives would have to be pleased Pres. Obama told Africa it had to make tough reforms, embrace the corporate world and stop expecting handouts. Tough love, to be sure, but it smacks of colonial paternalism to progressives in Africa because they see a problem few Americans do. Food subsidies remain a problem but that is a European malady foisted off on Africa and it makes them unable to compete. Europe accounts for 85% of the agriculture subsidies of the entire world and now they have taken to buying up land in Africa cheap in order to grow food for biofuels to make their 'green' voters happy - Europeans can afford to drive on food Africans can't afford to buy.
The great equalizer in food production is, of course, genetic modification. But Europeans are as anti-science about food as progressives in America are and any food made with biological science - the great equalizer, since it does not require being lucky enough to be born in France or California - will be penalized in Europe with a warning label.
Ashton regards the presence of DuPont and Monsanto in the African agriculture market as a negative, but here he is clearly wrong. Those are the only companies able to put together the data and the lawyers to overcome the prehistoric, Salem Witch-y science mentality of Europeans. With large companies involved African farmers finally have some chance, because they surely had none before.
The cure for Africa is not money with no accountability or praying that there are no droughts or heavy rains, it is science that makes food sustainable in hard-to-grow places. And then getting Europeans to accept science so that Africans can sell food there without being penalized. The companies that can do that are going to be large multinationals because small companies and farmers can't stand up to anti-science hysteria on their own.
- Anti-Science Republicans Versus Anti-Science Democrats: The Comparison
- The Left Is More Anti-Science Than The Right Unless The Right Is More Anti-Science Than The Left
- Should The BP Oil Spill Be A Weapon In The Culture War?
- Environmental Accountability: What America Gets Wrong, Canada And India Get Right
- “Yucca Mountain Will Be There Long After Senator Reid Is Gone”