Starved for Science How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa

ISBN-10: 0674033477
ISBN-13: 9780674033474
Edition: 2008
List price: $19.50 Buy it from $5.45
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Description: Listen to a short interview with Robert Paarlberg Host: Chris Gondek Producer: Heron & CraneHeading upcountry in Africa to visit small farms is absolutely exhilarating given the dramatic beauty of big skies, red soil, and arid vistas, but eventually  More...

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Book details

List price: $19.50
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 8/5/2009
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 256
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.682
Language: English

Listen to a short interview with Robert Paarlberg Host: Chris Gondek Producer: Heron & CraneHeading upcountry in Africa to visit small farms is absolutely exhilarating given the dramatic beauty of big skies, red soil, and arid vistas, but eventually the two-lane tarmac narrows to rutted dirt, and the journey must continue on foot. The farmers you eventually meet are mostly women, hardworking but visibly poor. They have no improved seeds, no chemical fertilizers, no irrigation, and with their meager crops they earn less than a dollar a day. Many are malnourished.Nearly two-thirds of Africans are employed in agriculture, yet on a per-capita basis they produce roughly 20 percent less than they did in 1970. Although modern agricultural science was the key to reducing rural poverty in Asia, modern farm science-including biotechnology-has recently been kept out of Africa.In Starved for Science Robert Paarlberg explains why poor African farmers are denied access to productive technologies, particularly genetically engineered seeds with improved resistance to insects and drought. He traces this obstacle to the current opposition to farm science in prosperous countries. Having embraced agricultural science to become well-fed themselves, those in wealthy countries are now instructing Africans-on the most dubious grounds-not to do the same.In a book sure to generate intense debate, Paarlberg details how this cultural turn against agricultural science among affluent societies is now being exported, inappropriately, to Africa. Those who are opposed to the use of agricultural technologies are telling African farmers that, in effect, it would be just as well for them to remain poor.

Norman Borlaug is a prominent plant pathologist and geneticist who helped pioneer the Green Revolution to increase crop yields worldwide. Born on a farm near Cresco, Iowa, in 1914, Borlaug studied forestry at the University of Minnesota and earned his B.S. in 1937. He then undertook graduate work there in plant pathology, earning his M.S. in 1939 and his Ph.D. in 1942. After a year of teaching at the university, he left to accept a job as a biochemist for the E. I. duPont de Nemours Company. The turning point in Borlaug's career came in 1944, when he became a member of a team of scientists who founded the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico. Under the auspices of the Rockefeller Foundation, the center's goal was to introduce the elements of the modern agricultural revolution into Mexican agriculture. In addition to mechanization, improved irrigation, and the use of new chemical fertilizers, Borlaug and his colleagues at the center emphasized the development of new varieties and hybrids of wheat. Their efforts were directed at finding a variety of wheat for Mexican farmers that was disease resistant, responsive to fertilizers, and produced increased crop yields. Their research was successful, and the so-called Green Revolution-the great expansion in food production worldwide-was underway. Borlaug and most agricultural scientists believed the new high-yielding varieties of rice, corn, wheat, and other cereal crops, which were the staple foods in developing countries, would end hunger there and enable the governments of those countries to feed their rapidly growing populations. During the decades after World War II, Borlaug lent his expertise to the governments of Morocco, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other developing nations. He also continued his work in Mexico and became associate director of the Rockefeller Foundation Inter-American Food Program in 1964. In 1970 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work in combating world hunger. It is notable that Borlaug is one of the few scientists to have won this honor. For the rest of his career, Borlaug continued his work in developing hybrid cereal crops, finally achieving success in introducing a variety of corn that greatly increased the food supply in developing nations that depended on that crop. During the 1980s, however, Borlaug's success seemed challenged by declines in yields of hybrid crops because of their dependence on expensive fertilizers. The reliance of hybrid cereal crops on large-scale mechanized agriculture also was viewed by some critics as a growing threat to small farmers in developing nations. Since 1984 Borlaug has been Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University.

James Earl Carter Jr. was born on October 1, 1924 in Plains, Georgia. He graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in 1946, and spent seven years as an officer in the Navy. When his term was over, Carter returned to Plains and began his career in politics at the state level in 1962. In 1970, he was elected Governor of Georgia and eight years later announced his candidacy for the Presidency. Carter campaigned against Gerald Ford and eventually won with 297 electoral votes, becoming the 39th President of the United States. As President, Carter established a National Energy Policy, expanded the National Park System and created the Department of Education. He was also instrumental in the Camp David Agreement of 1978, which helped to bring peace between Egypt and Israel. Carter established full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and completed negotiations of the SALT II Nuclear Limitations Treaty with the Soviet Union. Upon completion of his term as President, he founded the Carter Center in Atlanta, a non-profit organization that works to prevent and resolve conflict and to enhance freedom and democracy around the world. Carter also actively supports Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that helps to build homes for those in need. In 2002, Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Foreword
Preface
Introduction: Why Are Africans Rejecting Biotechnology?
Why Rich Countries Dislike Agricultural GMOs
Downgrading Agricultural Science in Rich Countries
Withdrawing Support for Agricultural Science in Africa
Keeping Genetically Engineered Crops Out of Africa
Drought-Tolerant Crops-Only for the Rich?
Conclusion An Imperialism of Rich Tastes
References
Index

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