High-tech versus low-tech agriculture (The Seattle Times)

Read at :

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2017322825_apusfoodandfarmgates.html

Gates defends focus on high-tech agriculture

By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP

Associated Press

KIRKLAND, Wash. —

Bill Gates has a terse response to criticism that the high-tech solutions he advocates for world hunger are too expensive or bad for the environment: Countries can embrace modern seed technology and genetic modification or their citizens will starve.

When he was in high school in the 1960s, people worried there wouldn’t be enough food to feed the world, Gates recalled in his fourth annual letter, which was published online Tuesday. But the “green revolution,” which transformed agriculture with high-yield crop varieties and other innovations, warded off famine.

Gates is among those who believe another, similar revolution is needed now. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent about $2 billion in the past five years to fight poverty and hunger in Africa and Asia, and much of that money has gone toward improving agricultural productivity.

Gates doesn’t apologize for his endorsement of modern agriculture or sidestep criticism of genetic modification. He told The Associated Press that he finds it ironic that most people who oppose genetic engineering in plant breeding live in rich nations that he believes are responsible for global climate change that will lead to more starvation and malnutrition for the poor.

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Online:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: http://www.gatesfoundation.org

Center for Food Safety: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/

Associated Press writer Donna Blankinship can be reached at http://twitter.com/dgblankinship

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.