An environmentalist for genetically engineered crops

In his recent interview, thoughtful long-time environmentalist Stewart Brand weighs in on topics from nuclear vs. coal to genetically engineered crops... and on the latter, like on nuclear, he ends up opposing the generic hippy environmentalist point of view:
e360: What has been the reaction to your proposals on genetic engineering and food?

Brand: Well, I’m a little surprised that Michael Pollan hasn’t come over because he has busted the industrialization of organic food.

The local growing of basically artisanal food is absolutely fantastic in a country where the basic nutrition problem is obesity. That’s not the major nutrition problem in much or most of the world. [emphasis mine, as this was central to an argument I recently had with an ardent environmentalist in an organic local bakery and coffeehouse] What they need is volume, which is the very thing the Green Revolution spoke to and answered. The second Green Revolution is the next set of good technology in agriculture. Not only green in the sense the first one was — higher yield, lower cost, cheaper food, better distribution and all that — but also green ecologically, environmentally green in terms of climate.

Kind of working backward to what the world wants and needs, and what the climate wants and needs, and ecology wants and needs, then genetic engineering looks like a very important tool.
The land use point alone makes a strong argument for the yield improvement potential of genetic engineering in agriculture, but I like how he adds the point that it can help address goals of minimizing negative environmental impacts as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment