Skip to main content

from COP18 CGIAR meeting on Agriculture, December 2012.
African Agriculture

Global food wars have begun, not with a shot heard round the world but with the now unsurprising news that multi-national agribusiness companies are investing in poor countries. Sure, it's under the guise of preventing world hunger but we know better.

This week, President Obama is making his first major visit to Africa since taking office. One topic that's likely high on his agenda: U.S. investment in African agriculture.

Mother Jones:

The US government appears to already be doing this, as a recent analysis of dumped embassy cables found that the State Department had lobbied governments around the world to adopt policies allowing for the cultivation of genetically modified crops.

"[S]ome may see our work in Africa as philanthropy, but it's much more than that," said General Mills CEO Ken Powell at an event hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation. "It's about creating shared value, and for our African partners, it is about unlocking opportunity—business opportunity—through knowledge-sharing."

China's largest meat producer, Shuanghui International, has a very strong opening salvo in its desire to influence global meat production with its bid to purchase U.S.-owned Smithfield Foods, the worlds largest producer of pork. Does the U.S. want to be a CAFO for the world?  The decision to approve the sale lies with the U.S. Congress.

As our land and water resources dwindle due to increasing population and consumption, and as climate change takes a big bite out of our  agriculture productivity due to more extreme droughts and floods, the hands controlling the food purse strings will not be nations but the allegiance to profit global conglomerates.

It doesn't have to be this way. Frances Moore Lappe, in her iconic book Diet For a Small Planet, states that we already produce enough food to feed the world. "We feed almost half the world's grain to livestock, returning only a fraction in meat ... while millions starve." We use an area the size of Africa for livestock grazing and for cropland to produce livestock feed.  

Originally posted to beach babe in fl on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:12 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  ... do you mean "food wars"? (6+ / 0-)

    Because "food fights" brings up a mental image of people flinging food at each other.

  •  Translated Ken Powell: "Those people are ripe for (15+ / 0-)


    Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

    by The Dead Man on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:35:59 AM PDT

  •  Once more it's time to rage against the lying of (9+ / 0-)

    the Right. GMOs, according to two recent scientific studies, alter the very bacteria our bodies use to digest food. GMO food has not been adequately tested, and the US is the global guinea pig market for GMO foods.

    Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government. ~ Edward Bernays

    by 4Freedom on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:43:25 AM PDT

    •  even just breeding more diseast and pest (5+ / 0-)

      resistant strains of food crops with more traditional selection methods has probably meant much higher levels or altered versions of toxins that plants naturally produce to ward off bugs and disease... fungi, bacteria, viruses.... and that has to have an effect on human health. There are far more people with digestive changes in recent years who can no longer eat many dietary staples because it is playing havoc with their guts and their health... and of course part of this may be all the pesticide residues as well but that is only part of the equation.

      Add to that GM gene splicing in coding for handling herbicides or producing novel anti pest compounds and other things and who knows what that does to our own bacterial flora? And it would have to affect different people differently... many effectively unchanged by what they eat but many many others with different bacterial flora balances (there are several main groupings or types that we all fall within almost like having a blood type) and different genetic linked problems with these modified foods regardless of the technology that created them.

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 10:48:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And the center (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      weck, Klusterpuck

      which supports the Right.

      Let sleeping yawners lie. It's not like you can stop them. ☮ ♥ ☺

      by Words In Action on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 11:10:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ooh, I like that phrasing. (3+ / 0-)

      "Rage against the lying of the Right."  Is that yours?

    •  Oy, the bad misinterpretation of science (0+ / 0-)

      First thing, a single study (and these are two studies looking at two different things, so only a single study each) doesn't mean anything in itself. A single study told us that cold fusion had been achieved. A single study said that vaccines cause autism. It's the second and third and fourth study looking at that specific subject that changes it from "Possibly interesting" to "there's something here."

      Item two, the authors of the study published in Anaerobe say their results could have implications, that it might be related, that there's potentially a possible cause. They certainly don't make any definitive statement, and anyone claiming that such a study is proof is misrepresenting the results.

      Third, the studies about Roundup? They don't even say what you're claiming they do. The studies were looking at the effects of the chemical Roundup, not at the plants engineered to be resistant to them. The engineered crops weren't even being looked at!

      More importantly, Roundup has been in widespread use since 1973. It wasn't until 1996, twenty-three years later, that the first genetically engineered Roundup Ready product became commercially available. So even if GMOs stopped being used tomorrow, it wouldn't eliminate the use of Roundup, and the potential problems caused by the chemical would still be around.

  •  And let's not forget methane (5+ / 0-)

    Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns.

    And that was in 2006.

    Libertarianism is something that most people grow out of, not unlike, say, hay fever or asthma. Bob Johnson

    by randallt on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:50:58 AM PDT

    •  And fizzy drinks put out a comparable amount of (0+ / 0-)

      CO2. Coke, Pepsi, seltzer, fermented drinks. All over the world carbonated drinks are releasing hundreds of tons of CO2 into the air, daily.

      Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
      ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

      by FarWestGirl on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 04:35:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Net impact: zero. (0+ / 0-)

        The carbon dioxide is not produced by the fermentation of most nonalcoholic fizzy drinks -- it has to come from somewhere.  It can be captured from the atmosphere, in our dreams it can be captured from the combustion of coal and it is also a byproduct of ammonia and hydrogen production.

        The carbonation of beer and sparkling wines, on the other hand, is a result of the carbon dioxide produced through fermentation processes.

        "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

        by Yamaneko2 on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 08:15:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is a VERY complicated subject. (6+ / 0-)

    Food plays a central role in the political economy in Africa and it is difficult to overstate the importance of agriculture in the sub-Saharan context. The industry contributes roughly 30% of the continent’s GDP, 50% of total export earnings and between 70% and 80% of all employment.

    Smallholders (people who farm two acres or less) are tops on the agendas of every major development org because research indicates that growth in the sector could prove four times more effective at alleviating poverty and fostering human development than growth in any other industry.

    There are land rights issues, infrastructure issues, distrust of GMOs (which are flat out illegal in many African countries - even when it comes to food aid) and much much more further muddying the waters.

    Obama can try to lay as much ground work as he wants but it won't change the fact that the US always comes to Africa's table a day late and a dollar short.

    China and India are the ones to watch. They have been buying massive tracts of land over the last few years and trade of foodstuffs has been well established. Lentils, for example, are not a part of the African diet and are grown specifically for export to India.

    •  Maybe you can shed some light on this question (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ExpatGirl, FarWestGirl

      I don't understand how these chemical companies can control upwards of 85% of some important crop markets and not be considered a monopoly?  Since we need corn and soy for meat and dairy production, what would happen if a foreign company bought Monsanto?  Wouldn't that pose a national security issue for the US?  I truly hope that the sale of Smithfield is not allowed.  China already produces more pork than all countries combined, right?  Buying our largest integrator gives them control of the world market of pork products.

      Am I missing something or is this as scary as it sounds?

  •  Probably less (6+ / 0-)

    "investment in African agriculture" than imposition of Big Ag on unsuspecting indigenous peoples who will be forced from their ancestral lands in favor of huge multinational corporations.

    •  Not going to happen (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, julesrules39, FarWestGirl

      The only way to make money in African agriculture is to work with smallholders. Outside South Africa, it is what every large, international ag business does.

      Being poor and formerly oppressed/enslaved by the West doesn't translate into 'unsuspecting' or stupid. No politician in Africa is going to let the US to run rough shod over them in this particular industry. And many African countries have already stood up to the US on GMOs - even turning away food aid over it.

      The East offers far better and more respectful deals. China, in particular, ties substantial infrastructure investments to its activities.

      •  I hope you're right (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ExpatGirl, julesrules39

        I've read too much about corrupt politicians selling their countries' people down the drain. So will keep watching to see how things go.

        •  With some notable exceptions (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          (Mugabe!) most of Africa has made tremendous progress over the 50 years since independence.

          Funny enough, some of the worst offenders (Mobutu!) were hand picked by America.

          What we are seeing unfold in the US today is merely a taste of what our country has been guilty of doing overseas for decades. People in developing countries hate us for a reason.

      •  Obama is trying to play the "development" card (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        with this:

        The White House press release states Power Africa will build off of “new discoveries of vast reserves of oil and gas, and the potential to develop clean geothermal, hydro, wind and solar energy” in Africa.
        but what comes with it is simply more global warming, since obviously the "vast reserves of oil and gas" will dominate the project.  And I doubt that many African governments are going to be happy with the "strings" attached to any American sponsored project.

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:17:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  yes, the pattern already... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, julesrules39

      cash crops for Europe... and now for India and China...
      people lose their land (stolen or bought cheaply) and along with it the ability to feed themselves directly outside the cash economy if they have to... and  will instead increasingly have to work on plantations for wages and find that they cannot afford to feed their families as cash crops for export crowd out food staples and prices for less available food increases... The winners will be the local middlemen, subsidiary or dependent companies and of course the foreign investors/buyers who depend on depressed wages and cheap commodities to buoy up their profits.

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 10:54:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, this is exactly what has happened in Mexico. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VL Baker
      "investment in African agriculture" than imposition of Big Ag on unsuspecting indigenous peoples who will be forced from their ancestral lands in favor of huge multinational corporations.
  •  People who promote the notion of (3+ / 0-)

    "no free lunch," have long been committed to the proposition that if humans are to be effectively coerced, their ability to sustain themselves has to be under stress. If people are to be made to work, their ability to gain food any other way has to be curtailed. Private property is the enforcement tool.
    The exclusive use of property/land looks like a boon, but, in addition to implied obligations, it comes at a heavy price. Property owners have to be willing to see other people starve.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 10:39:21 AM PDT

    •  I doubt that there are many left (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ExpatGirl, 3rock, qofdisks

      in the world who do not see through American "generosity" to the end goal of dominance and enslavement.  It's not like there's not some "history" there . . .

      If I were in Africa and looking for long term beneficial trade relationships I'd be looking East, not West.

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:23:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is little doubt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, VL Baker

    that a food shortage in many countries will precipitate food riots.  The 2 major causes of the shortages are corporate speculation in the food commodities market and the conversion of corn to ethanol.  Then there is the massive cattle industry that consumes enormous amount of potential human food calories and returns a small fraction of calories for human consumption, as well as, using 1000's of acres of arable land for grazing (the methane loaded cow farts are a bonus).
    The problem with GMO's is the fact they are under the control of agribusiness not the GMO's themselves.  

    "If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them. Isaac Asimov (8.25 / -5.64}

    by carver on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 10:55:35 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the diary. This has been on my mind. (0+ / 0-)

    The much-touted (and originally good) idea of microloans is being tied to contracting with agribusiness. While you hear a lot of self-congratulatory talk about food security and alleviating poverty, this is all about pushing the same unsustainable, biosphere-killing practices and getting ever more people into the debt spiral.
    Google "agribusiness targets africa". It's page after page of vulture capitalists buzzing and feeding and calling more to the feast.
    I need a palate cleanser. Here, look at this.

    One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

    by Darwinian Detritus on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 11:06:02 AM PDT

    •  With all due respect (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I clicked on the links you provided and think your concern when it comes to Africa is off base. To understand the situation on the ground read:

      Microfinance isn't a uniformly bad thing and there are many programs out there that change lives for the better.

        •  What I think you're saying is (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ExpatGirl, VL Baker, FarWestGirl

          that I'm being unfairly critical of microlending, especially given the levels of hunger, disempowerment of women (the main agricultural workers on family farms) and lack of farmer support by many African governments.
          You're probably right. I haven't researched these programs in any depth. But I do know that interest rate gouging is happening.
          My largest concern here is the forced importation of farming techniques that are unnecessarily expensive and will ultimately deplete what little soil families have at their disposal.

          One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

          by Darwinian Detritus on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 12:37:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Africa is always such a unique case (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VL Baker, Darwinian Detrius

            Despite the sheer number of Africans involved in the cultivation of commodities for food, most countries on the continent are net food importers, largely because farm yields in the region come so far below world averages - 55% below the world average in the case of rice, 34% in the case of maize, 69% in the case of sorghum, etc.

            According to the UNDP: “In the early 1960s, one hectare yielded about half a tonne more cereal in Asia than in sub-Saharan Africa. Asia soon entered its green revolution, and by 2008-1010 the gap had widened to more than two tonnes. Yield growth collapsed in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1980s...and then began to turn around in the 1990s and especially after 2000, though the pace remains much slower than in Asia and Latin America.”

            The factors behind Africa’s poor yield results are systemic and include:
            •    Low degree of fertilizer access and usage
            •    Lack of micro-financing available to smallholders to fund purchase of inputs (i.e. fertilizer, high quality seeds, etc.)
            •    High reliance on rain over irrigation
            •    Poor land tenure systems
            •    Insufficient mechanization (hoes vs even rudimentary tractors)
            •    Mixed cropping on single fields instead of larger areas dedicated to single crops

            According to most recent estimates, only 6.5% of the continent’s farmland is irrigated meaning that the vast majority of agriculture is rain-fed. This poses several key challenges for productivity including yields held hostage to fluctuating weather patterns, particularly droughts, and continual runoff that results in already degraded soils losing additional nutrients at a rate of +/-50 kg per hectare annually.

            The need for fertilizer inputs is obvious yet Africa (sub-Saharan and North combined) accounts for a sparse 1% of total global usage. Of the countries using the largest share of fertilzser (e.g. Egypt, South Africa and Morocco), commercial farming – not smallholders – dominate.

            It just so happens that I'm in the middle of writing an industry overview for a client - so I really do have this info at my fingertips and am probably sharing a LOT more than people are actually interested in!

            •  understand that many could be uplifted from (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Darwinian Detrius, ExpatGirl

              poverty with help from multi national investmests. But, their track record for equity and sustainability has been dismal. I don't have confidence that they will do a better job without constraints.

              Macca's Meatless Monday

              by VL Baker on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 02:33:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The multinationals are already in Africa (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mauricehall, VL Baker, Sylv

                and the way it works is fascinating (in my opinion).

                Agriculturally rich areas are often very remote. The farmers can't afford to get to a central market and the cost of getting to each farmer is prohibitive.

                So companies like Olam and ETG and a number of others set up supply chains from the ports to the remotest areas. Warehouses are available in the bush for farmers to bike to sell their crops for cash. Relationships are important and the prices are higher than they can get in the local market.

                These aggregation centers serve multiple purposes. They provide education about best practice and also microfinance for the farmer to purchase fertilizer and high quality seeds on an agreement that the ag company guarantees it will buy all output. It is an assured cash sale - unlike what happens at the local markets.

                Now these farmers don't have a lot of excess for sale - generally only 25% of their total output. So the aggregation centers hold on to the stock until sufficient mass has been reached to make transport to a larger warehouse on the supply chain viable. Thousands of smallholders use these centers and, in season, stock might move up the line daily.

                There haven't been very many attempts to introduce large scale commercial farming into the mix (outside South Africa which has always been commercial). A US/UK group tried it in Zambia and got shown their ass because there is no way a commercial farm can compete with thousands of smallholders with virtually no overheads.

                And this is a political hot potato. Up to 80% of the continent's population falls into the smallholder category. It well known that it would be suicide for any government to screw with this sector - particularly after neglecting it in the past on instruction from the West.

                Re the oil/gas element, good luck with that America. China will always offer the better and more reliable deal. If you are interested, I can tell you how it works in mining (my other area of expertise). Totally fascinating (if you are into that kind of thing).

                •  the smallholder model is what keeps Africa (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  from joining the high greenhouse gas emitters. This is my major concern with multi nationals going in there. They have not shown restraint in past and with profit and their shareholders to please I'm pessimistic.

                  Macca's Meatless Monday

                  by VL Baker on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 04:47:58 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I understand your pessimism but (0+ / 0-)

                    it just isn't as easy as all that. To effectively go in there the way you are thinking would require the company to sink millions and even billions into infrastructure development. Roads, irrigation systems, warehousing, cold storage, electrification, etc. Costs of doing business are astronomical.

                    Unlike the US, African nations have consistently stood up against GMOs. There are reports that some are loosening their regulations but even this is highly thought through. They might loosen a restriction on cotton for example, but be less willing to be guinea pigs when it comes to food. I'm sure the likes of Monsanto have been working hard to convince them otherwise but Africans are a lot smarter than the world at large gives them credit for being.

                    Governments across Africa are focused on smallholders. We are talking about the majority of national populations here. They are not going to pick Monsanto over the lives of their own citizens. Not if they want to stay in power.

                    The oil & gas side of the equation is more of a toss up and companies like Shell certainly have an extremely ugly history. On the global warming front, the continent's reliance on coal is also a concern. South Africa has had massive power shortages over the last few years, for example, and is focused on building more coal fired plants. Botswana used to import electricity from South Africa but got cut off because of South Africa's problems. They too are looking at expanding their coal options. Many African countries do, however, have a huge focus on building and investing in greener options. In the meantime, their economies will be destroyed if they allowed the lights to go out altogether.

                    •  it's so complex, I appreciate your comments.. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      It's such an important fork in the road for Africa, so decisions now have to be made carefully.  Africa could be so ripe for solar and do as India is doing with regards to leap frogging fossil fuels for rural areas and going straight to solar.

                      As far as agriculture now is the time for them to go full sustainable and reject the western agriculture model. I'm hoping that what you describe as the distribution model for retaining smallholders works.  But, the track record for multi nationals is so poor and that's all we have to work with. Altruism is not in their playbook.

                      Macca's Meatless Monday

                      by VL Baker on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 06:54:17 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

  •  note that Congress has not yet passed Admins (0+ / 0-)

    suggestion as part of Farm Bill that foreign aid in terms of food no longer be limited to crops grown in US and shipped by US companies.

    At least the last I heard ...

  •  GMCs and global food security (0+ / 0-)

    Ah, I was going to include this in my article later today ...

    Calestous Juma from Harvard's JFK School (same that brings us Samantha Power) writes a piece on transgenic crops as a means of addressing global food security and the role they are playing in meeting nutritional needs.  

    A Plea For Agricultural Innovation

    quoting liberally since probably most won't visit the link but there has so much in my inbox of late on this issue and food security in developing world. I wanted to put it out there for comment ....

    Here goes. And please do read the whole piece if you have a chance. ...


    My arrival in Montreal in 1996 coincided with the first commercial release of transgenic crops in North America. Then, world opinion was divided between those who thought advances in agricultural biotechnology would have catastrophic consequences for the environment and those who argued that biotechnology would help to address global agricultural challenges and possibly help to reduce agriculture's ecological footprint. I had the pleasure of working with faculty at McGill University who shared this optimism, but their measured voices could not rise above the din of prejudice.

    Critics argued that transgenic crops would only benefit industrialized countries and would have little to contribute to emerging nations. The overall assumption was that any unintended consequences were likely to be negative. This pessimistic worldview resulted in highly restrictive laws governing biotechnology as enshrined in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

    According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), from 1996 to 2011, transgenic crops added US$98.2 billion to the value of global agricultural output. In 2012, emerging countries reaped nearly $1 billion more than their industrial country counterparts. The use of transgenic crops saved nearly 473 million kg of active pesticide ingredients. It also reduced 23.1 billion kg or carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 10.2 million cars off the road. Without transgenic crops the world would have needed another 108.7 million hectares of land for the same level of output. The benefits to biological diversity from the technology have therefore been invaluable. On the economic front, nearly 15 million farmers and their families, estimated at 50 million people, have benefited from the adoption of transgenic crops.

    But not all the regions of the world are reaping the full benefits of agricultural biotechnology.  Of the 28 countries growing transgenic crops, only four (South Africa, Burkina Faso, Egypt, and Sudan) are in Africa. Despite the challenges, the leapfrogging that occurred in mobile phones is on the verge of taking place in agricultural biotechnology.  This is because of the increasing capacity among African countries to absorb existing biotechnologies and use them to solve local problems.

    Nigeria scientists have developed a pest-resistant variety of the blackeyed pea, a subspecies of the cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), to control the insect Maruca vitrata. The pest destroys nearly US$300 million worth of the crop annually. Pesticides worth US$500 million are imported annually to control the pest. Africa grows 96% of the 5.4 million tons consumed worldwide each year.

    To solve the problem, scientists at the Institute for Agricultural Research at Nigeria's Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria have developed a transgenic blackeyed pea variety using insecticide genes from the Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium. This achievement illustrates the heroic ability of local scientists to use technologies developed for different purposes to solve unique African problems.

    Another example is the spread of Xanthomonas wilt, a bacterial disease that attacks bananas. It is estimated that the disease costs the Great Lakes Region about US$500 million annually, predominantly in Uganda.

    Ugandan researchers are working on a transgenic banana using genes extracted from sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum) to control Xanthomonas. The disease is also affecting Ethiopia's ensete banana (Ensete ventricosum). Ugandan and Kenyan scientists are also using biotechnology techniques to enhance the micronutrient content of staples such as bananas, sorghum, and cassava. Ugandan scientists, for example, have already developed Golden Bananas with enhanced Vitamin A content.

  •  Diet for a Small Planet (0+ / 0-)

    was published forty years ago, when the world population was much smaller.  It's questionable whether the numbers still add up, although I will concede that it's more efficient to feed the population on grain than beef.  The only problem is that the human body is not fully-evolved to subsist on vegetable matter, and most people are less healthy without recourse to either meat, fowl, or fish.  Fish is ideal, but of course, we've been screwing up the oceans at a frantic pace, i.e., Fukushima, tuna laced with mercury from power plants, etc.

    The best solution from an environmental perspective would be to cut the human population in half.  Unfortunately, the way forward on that seems to be running through War, Plague, and Famine rather than increased autonomy for women and decreased birthrates.

  •  Outside The Front Of My House (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VL Baker, pat bunny, Bush Bites

    is a 5,000 acre corn field. Feed corn. I wouldn't eat the stuff if you paid me. But I bet I do through something. It is fucking unnatural. It can rain a lot. Not rain. Doesn't matter how hot it gets it just grows and grows. Not remotely natural. I can easily see how a company would love to buy up cheap land in Africa to grow more of it.

    Folks around me used to also grow soy beans and winter wheat, you know crop rotation, but too much money to be made growing corn.

  •  just say no/Africa! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VL Baker, davehouck

    Don Benedetto was murdered.-IgnazioSilone(BreadAndWine)

    by renzo capetti on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:12:43 PM PDT

  •  Saw this on the front page! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites, VL Baker, 3rock

    Went to tip and rec, and was confused for a moment; then realized you've had a screen name change!

    Tipped and rec'd with a smile to you, and a great appreciation for what you do for all of us.


    Love one another

    by davehouck on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:32:52 PM PDT

  •  The problem isn't food production (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VL Baker, Deward Hastings
    "We feed almost half the world's grain to livestock, returning only a fraction in meat ... while millions starve."
     If we doubled the amount of food produced in the world millions would still starve.
       Why? Because the problem isn't the amount of food. The problem is that poor people can't afford the food. As long as the keep the same economic system this will remain true.

    “Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid.” ― Upton Sinclair

    by gjohnsit on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:54:36 PM PDT

    •  our food system is a disaster, it's totally (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      unsustainable and inequitable. Increasing production is what the multi nationals are trying to do in Africa..and they take the profit.  What they are proposing is taking the unsustainable. inequitable and unhealthy western food system to Africa.

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 08:08:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It doesn't help (0+ / 0-)

      that Agrarian/Industrial Age- poor- human populations always grow to the limits of their food supply.  

  •  We need to change things (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VL Baker

    so we can feed all the hungry, so they can grow up and have children that need to be fed, so those children can grow up and have more children, and more, and more.  And then we can limit the space on the planet that is now home to wild animals, so we can use it to grow food for ourselves, so we can feed the hungry, so they can have children, and more and more, and more.   We-are-totally-fucking-nuts.

  •  for ward? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VL Baker

        I'm 62
         A lot of problems in this world. Most caused by corporate greed. The problem with GMO's is it stops evolution. A plants ability to adjust.
        One time read an article, I think it was in Sri Lanka or South Africa, a mango grove, the baboons would always go to this one tree first. Stripping it bare. A worker one day wondered why? Tasted the fruit, it was sweeter, more delicious. From that became a new, very profitable type of mango.
        Anyway from the tinfoil hat theory ist: The reason they will attempt to CALL acceptable to corporately FARM Africa, no stopping, at all costs is the land in a good portion of the United States will be completely destroyed by the unknown chemicals being used for fracking, destroying the underground water aquifers. Combined with a saturation of glyphosate, in everything, nothing will grow. Why would the rain come?
        I'd rather hybrid had the variables. Because of lack of investment, takes longer, but far safer.
        Onward to a cloned everything. The problem in stagnation comes disease, Irish potato blight like disease. Worldwide.
        Monsanto must be stopped
        Fracking must be stopped
        Climate change must be stopped
        Cloning must be stopped
        I don't depress or worry. The younger generations are intelligent. Other nations are intelligent. I'm very optimistic. Other nations have a handle on the future, the US will have to change.
        If there is a balance, it's not in the or at the hands of "Oh, agent orange is completely safe," monsatanOagentorange !          

    March AGAINST monsatanOagentorange 3/25/13 a time warp

    by 3rock on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 12:04:34 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site