What is in this article?:
- African farmer to California: Prop 37 vote will impact me
- Prop 37 will impact global biotech
- In many poor countries, biotechnology has spread slowly. Anti-globalization activists have crusaded against them, wrongly insisting that old-fashioned farming practices are adequate in the 21st century. Tellingly, few of these protestors have backgrounds in either farming or the science of crop biotechnology.
Prop 37 will impact global biotech
When it comes to food production, farmers know best. Here in Kenya, our access to biotech crops is limited–but we’re about to make significant progress, with the government’s imminent release of GM corn (maize) seed. It will help us feed a growing population.
The passage of Proposition 37, however, would undermine food security–right away in California, and very soon everywhere.
One study says that if Proposition 37 wins approval, the annual food costs of the average California family will rise by $350. That’s because the law’s complicated requirements would force food companies to alter their methods of packaging and production.
Yet Proposition 37 would carry an even higher price tag outside the borders of California. It would cast suspicion on a vital technology. Labels will stigmatize GM food, and companies that perform research and development into biotech agriculture will start to have second thoughts. If poor political choices can trump sound science, they may begin to invest their resources in other areas.
Africa has a rooting interest in these developments. Not only do we want basic varieties of GM corn, but we hope to have access to other kinds of GM crops plus different types of GM traits, such as drought resistance. This is the key to my continent’s ability to feed itself.
Thomas Friedman reminds us that the world is flat: We live in a global village, where legal and scientific events that occur in one place quickly reverberate in the four corners of the earth. Political decisions in California will soon catch up with farmers everywhere, from Honduras to India to my little 25-acre farming plot in western Kenya.
Let’s hope that on Election Day, Californians vote locally and think globally.
Gilbert Arap Bor grows corn (maize), vegetables and dairy cows on a small-scale farm of 25 acres in Kapseret, near Eldoret, Kenya. He also teaches at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Eldoret campus. Mr. Bor is the 2011 Kleckner Trade & Technology Advancement Award recipient and a member of the Truth About Trade & Technology Global Farmer Network.