Starved for Science: How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa

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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Unlike the rest of the world during the last 30 years, the productivity of African farmers has remained low; as a result, nearly one-third of the people in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished. According to Paarlberg (political science, Wellesley Coll.), an increased adoption of agricultural science methods would increase farm productivity, raise living standards for the rural poor, and decrease undernourishment. Biotechnologies, specifically, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), could change this, Paarlberg writes; however, because of opposition to GMOs, especially in Europe, where opponents are concerned about possible future health or environmental problems (Paarlberg argues there is no credible scientific evidence for this concern), it has become difficult for African farmers and governments to adopt GMOs. Except for South Africa, no African state has legalized the planting of GMOs for production and consumption. While citizens of rich countries have the luxury of deciding what kinds of foods-organic, nonorganic, GMO, non-GMO-to eat, droughts and insect infestations continue to wipe out crops, and rural African children die because they have no choices. Bringing another perspective to the GMO debate, Paarlberg's provocative argument is recommended for all public and academic libraries.-Joshua Lambert, Missouri State Univ., Springfield

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Financial Times

Condoning the cultivation of genetically modified crops for food is not, Robert Paarlberg concedes, likely to win him friends in academic circles...But in this timely book, Paarlberg, a political scientist, makes a strong argument: Europeans, who have so much food they do not need the help of science to make more, are pushing their prejudices on Africa, which still relies on foreign aid to feed its people. He calls on global policymakers to renew investment in agricultural science and to stop imposing visions of "organic food purity" on a continent that has never had a green revolution. As governments look for ways of tackling what is now commonly called a "global food crisis" with unprecedented price increases in basic foodstuffs, this book offers welcome food for thought.
— Jenny Wiggins

Times Higher Education Supplement

[An] illuminating book on the state of science and agriculture in Africa...[It] has much of merit.
— Jules Pretty

Texas Observer

[This] book ends with an alternative perspective on globalization that will inspire open-minded skeptics to rethink the matter...[Paarlberg is] a pragmatic believer in separating babies from bathwater. The fact that current applications of GM technology primarily benefit a handful of corporations does not deter Paarlberg from envisioning a scenario in which nonprofits and private African corporations might employ GM technology to serve the increasingly dire needs of African farmers...An insightful book that deftly balances the benefits and drawbacks of globalization, all within parameters conforming to the real world, the one in which we live...A clarion call for corporations and NGOs alike to revisit issues that have been ideologically polarized rather than rationally examined.
— James E. McWilliams

Choice

This is an important book...Paarlberg has written extensively about smallholder agricultural development and genetically modified (GM) crops in Africa. Here he goes much deeper than just the GM debate to suggest that the anti-GM arguments are part of the currently fashionable trend in many international institutions such as the World Bank and leading NGOs to push organic agriculture and a European-style regulatory system in Africa—instead of promoting increased production...The author says that although well-intentioned, and perhaps appropriate in countries which have already experienced major scientific advances in agriculture, including India, China, and Brazil, these policies are leading to food shortages and agricultural disasters in Africa. Well argued and documented, if controversial.
— C. W. Hartwig

Financial Times - Jenny Wiggins
Condoning the cultivation of genetically modified crops for food is not, Robert Paarlberg concedes, likely to win him friends in academic circles...But in this timely book, Paarlberg, a political scientist, makes a strong argument: Europeans, who have so much food they do not need the help of science to make more, are pushing their prejudices on Africa, which still relies on foreign aid to feed its people. He calls on global policymakers to renew investment in agricultural science and to stop imposing visions of "organic food purity" on a continent that has never had a green revolution. As governments look for ways of tackling what is now commonly called a "global food crisis" with unprecedented price increases in basic foodstuffs, this book offers welcome food for thought.
Times Higher Education Supplement - Jules Pretty
[An] illuminating book on the state of science and agriculture in Africa...[It] has much of merit.
Texas Observer - James E. McWilliams
[This] book ends with an alternative perspective on globalization that will inspire open-minded skeptics to rethink the matter...[Paarlberg is] a pragmatic believer in separating babies from bathwater. The fact that current applications of GM technology primarily benefit a handful of corporations does not deter Paarlberg from envisioning a scenario in which nonprofits and private African corporations might employ GM technology to serve the increasingly dire needs of African farmers...An insightful book that deftly balances the benefits and drawbacks of globalization, all within parameters conforming to the real world, the one in which we live...A clarion call for corporations and NGOs alike to revisit issues that have been ideologically polarized rather than rationally examined.
Choice - C. W. Hartwig
This is an important book...Paarlberg has written extensively about smallholder agricultural development and genetically modified (GM) crops in Africa. Here he goes much deeper than just the GM debate to suggest that the anti-GM arguments are part of the currently fashionable trend in many international institutions such as the World Bank and leading NGOs to push organic agriculture and a European-style regulatory system in Africa--instead of promoting increased production...The author says that although well-intentioned, and perhaps appropriate in countries which have already experienced major scientific advances in agriculture, including India, China, and Brazil, these policies are leading to food shortages and agricultural disasters in Africa. Well argued and documented, if controversial.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674029736
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2008
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Paarlberg is the Betty F. Johnson Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College.

Norman Borlaug is Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

Jimmy Carter is Former President of the United States and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Norman E. Borlaug Jimmy Carter vii

Preface xi

Introduction: Why Are Africans Rejecting Biotechnology? 1

1 Why Rich Countries Dislike Agricultural GMOs 21

2 Downgrading Agricultural Science in Rich Countries 47

3 Withdrawing Support for Agricultural Science in Africa 81

4 Keeping Genetically Engineered Crops Out of Africa 111

5 Drought-Tolerant Crops-Only for the Rich? 149

Conclusion An Imperialism of Rich Tastes 179

References 197

Index 221

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