The Rest of the Story

I realize that newspapers have to make money, but headlines like these just fan the flames of ignorance: Starved for Food, Zimbabwe Rejects U.S. Biotech Corn (

On the surface, it looks like corrupt, stupid leaders of a Third World nation are allowing people to starve to death, rather than accept the generous gift of American bioengineered corn. You expect to read something from them like, “We no want evil corn. It cause cancer.”

Yet, if you take the time to actually read the story, you find that the reason is that “if some of the corn seeds are sown instead of eaten, the resulting plants will produce gene-altered pollen that will blow about and contaminate surrounding fields.

That could render much of the corn grown in Zimbabwe — a nation that in most years is a major exporter — unshippable to nations in Europe and elsewhere that restrict imports of bioengineered food, because of environmental and health concerns.” Thus, when things turn around for them, they’ll starve from poverty!

The real villains are the U.S. and Europe.

Europe for starting this “genetic-engineered-food-is-evil” crap, so Zimabwe even has to worry about it. On top of that, they are considering banning the importation of cattle that were fed on engineered corn. Double whammy.

The U.S. for forcing the corn on them in the first place. If we really cared about saving starving Africans, we’d either send them plain old corn or cough up the cash to mill the corn first.

But here’s the kicker, assuming the genetic corn made it into Zimbabwean fields. The U.S. is backing changes to international trade rules that would prevent the African farmers from saving the seeds from the harvest to re-plant–because it would violate friggin’ copyright laws! AAARGH!

As you would imagine, this is frustrating aid organizations. But, when a similar situation came up with India, a U.S. official said, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

Proud to be an American…but they’re pushing it…

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3 Responses to The Rest of the Story

  1. Whiny the Elder says:

    If it gives you nourishment, then it is food. If it doesn’t contain large amounts of poison or give you a disease, then it is good food.

    So, if it is bioengineered it is…bad food?

  2. Bill says:

    It is “bad” food because we don’t yet know if there could be any long-term effects from eating bioengineered food.

  3. Solonor says:

    Though I doubt there is anything wrong with gene-altered food, there are some valid arguments on the “bioengineered food is bad” side. But it’s not worth playing politics over while people starve to death. The U.S. needs to mill the corn or give them the un-altered version.

    I realize that this is simplistic (milling costs money, and they don’t typically separate “normal” corn from the altered stuff), but it’s a lot better answer than, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

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