Use modern biotechnology to help the indiginous subsistence farmers

Dr. Nels Granholm

Dr. Nels Granholm

Because of their absolute poverty and chronic hunger, one sixth of the world’s population, about one billion people, face a very serious day-to-day challenge just to keep going.

We as Americans have no idea how these people keep going.

But they do!

About 650 million of the poorest of the poor live in Africa, Asia and elsewhere surviving on marginal land via subsistence farming.

They have been doing this for generations, even millennia.

Just about every indicator of well-being defines their quality of life as poor, even miserable.

But they are on the land.

They raise enough food to survive, and they are employed as indigenous farmers.

There is hope for their future.

There is hope in modern agriculture.

There is also hope in our new biotechnology.

Through conventional breeding methods, new means of genetic analysis (genomics), and introduction of new genes into existing crops (GMOs ? Genetically Modified Organisms), we can find ways to improve the overall productivity of food in developing countries.

How ought we in the USA, the UK and other nations go about helping people of developing countries if asked?

We ought to export biotechnology in ways that are sustainable over the long run, environmentally sound and highly constructive and helpful to indigenous peoples living on the land.

Our fundamental operating principle ought to be to understand, acknowledge, support, and implement biotechnology policy based on indigenous wisdom of the farmers.

In short, the people know the local conditions and crops that work.

Their crop varieties are attuned not only to the physical constraints of the land but also to the unique historical, traditional, and cultural conditions of the people working the land.

They have, after all, been growing these crops sustainably for millennia.