In the Wall Street Journal this morning, columnist Holman Jenkins Jr. writes about “restarting” the green revolution: “Food prices are up, and output and productivity are falling behind. Not enough attention is being placed on regulation-induced stagnation.” The column is behind the Journal’s subscription firewall, so to see the entire article thing you’ll need to be a subscriber. (Update: the column is now available here.)
Jenkins uses strong words to make a point. We believe that there is room for both biotech and organic crops, and that proper protections can be made. But his larger point — that there are major global food issues being largely ignored in the debate and litigation over alfalfa and sugar beets — is a valid one. Food security is a significant issue, and it is becoming even more significant. Yet it gets largely disregarded by all the groups filing lawsuits.
Business, government and NGO leaders met in Davos last week for the World Economic Forum, and for the first time global agriculture was a special meeting topic. A New Vision for Agriculture was announced, with programs now underway in nations like Tanzania (and, no, the program is not about GM seed but conventional hybrid seed, along with other inputs and infrastructure efforts.) We have to find ways to help farmers the world over become more productive. That’s the path to food security.