Norman E Borlaug:
Collapse of Economy May Prove Fatal to Food Security
ASHOK B SHARMA / Financial Express (India) 21mar2005
[See comments below article please]
NEW DELHI, MARCH 20 — The father of the Green Revolution, Dr Norman E Borlaug cautioned that the collapse of the economy may prove fatal to food security. He urged the world leaders to prepare themselves to meet such an eventuality. The Nobel laureate said: “Such a situation happened way back in 1929 in the US when the stock market crashed. Collapse of the economy can happen any time any where, if weakness creeps into the system. We need to be vigilant.”
He said that it can happen both in developed and developing economies. He also cited the recent financial crisis in Argentina, which took a toll on food security. According to Dr Borlaug food production alone cannot ensure food security. “The problems of food distribution and raising the income of people need to be addressed,” he said. He indicated that he is confident that there is enough food in the world, today, to meet the needs of food security. The problem is about distribution of food to 800 million underfed and low purchasing power of the poor.
Asked to comment on the situation of heavy farm subsidies given in developed countries which have depressed global prices affecting the interests of Third World farmers, Dr Borlaug said: “Initially these subsidies were given to small and marginal farmers in Europe. Today rich peasants are cornering large amounts of subsidy. This is the compulsions of a democracy.”
In the Indian context, Dr Borlaug said that there exists a paradox of surplus food stock and a large number of underfed. “India needs to develop rural infrastructure like roads and provide basic services like health and education to the poor. Food-for-work programme should be extensive to augment employment opportunities for the poor. He, however, said that the situation is not so bad in India as it was prior to 1960s when the Green Revolution was launched.
He pointed out that science and technology is there to augment production. What is now needed is to ensure food management and distribution through policy approach. He expressed concern that poor African countries are unable to provide subsidised ration to the poor unlike other countries.
Commenting on India’s wheat economy, he said: “It is satisfying to note it is proceeding on the right track. Farmers are gradually taking up improved agronomic and agricultural practices and increasing the efficiency of irrigation.” Dr Borlaug was the pioneer of dwarf wheat varieties which ushered Green Revolution in India. At the behest of Dr Borlaug Mexican varieties, Lermaroso and Sonara-64 was crossbred with Japanese Norin-10 gene to produce dwarf wheat grown in spring season and from this dwarf wheat varieties several Indian varieties were subsequently developed for cultivation in the country.
Dr Borlaug advocated the practice of zero tillage and raised bed cultivation as these would save the soil from erosion. He noted during his short journey to Punjab and Haryana a decline in factor productivity and suggested these states take up these agri practices in a big way. He said that these practices have proved effective in Argentina, Chile and even in the US.
He said that west African countries should adopt these practices as there is a dearth of animal power in the region and poor farmers have no money to purchase tractors. He noted that many wheat crops in Africa are becoming susceptible to rust diseases and said that global research bodies are active in resolving this issue.
He ruled out the possibility of feeding the world through organic farming and alleged: “The issue is mere political.” World’s cattle population will have to be increased threefold to produce dung needed to replace 80 million tonne of nitrogen consumption, he said and added: “This is just not possible.” He said that if the cattle population is raised to this level, it would cause a shrinkage in cultivable land and more grazing space would be created.
Dr Borlaug advocated the case for application of transgenic technology in agriculture in the interest of food and nutritional security. He suggested the transfer of wheat gene to rice for increasing the glutenin content and transfer of rice gene to wheat for making it resistant to rust disease. He said that if BT cotton has failed to deliver in parts of of India “it is not due to the BT gene but due to the insertion of the BT gene in a not-so productive crop.”
source: http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=85771 21mar2005
Mindfully.org note: Norman Borlaug was of course the 'father' of the Green Revolution. Since then he admitted that it is his Green Revolution that has poisoned our air, water, soil and foods. In addition, our bodies and those of every living creature are feeling the results of decades of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The earth treated to such insults is lifeless and washing away. And now, as if he hasn't done enough damage, Borlaug wants us to believe him once again when he says that, in order to avoid pesticides, the Gene Revolution is the way to go. The reason for his success in pushing his message is that he has a far better PR department — the chemical industry — than any sustainable advocate ever had. The sponsor of Borlaug's lecture referenced in this article is a fertilizer company! Coromandel fertilisers
Considering that the solution to the problem of hunger is not technical, Mao Tse Tung did more for human hunger than Norman Borlaug ever did!