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article imageOp-Ed: Monsanto or Markets?

By David Zetland     Oct 14, 2008 in Food
Monsanto (famous -- and vilified -- for genetically modified seeds) wants to use GMOs to grow more food with less water, addressing two problems (food demand and water shortages) at once. Water markets can also work, but can activists accept either?
The Monsanto Corporation (favorite demon of anti-globalization, anti-business folks) has come up with a new campaign for sustainable agriculture, and they make a good point: By 2050, say United Nations’ experts, our planet must double food production to feed an anticipated population of 9.3 billion people. (That figure is 40 percent higher than today’s 6.6 billion.)
Then factor in a pressured water supply, an energy-supply crunch and climate change. How do we surmount these obstacles? Agricultural innovation holds a key solution – and Monsanto pledges to do our part.
Now, I am a big fan of technology (e.g., the Monsanto "solution"), but I am an even bigger fan of markets. Put it this way: If markets are working, people innovate to find better ways to do things. Technological innovation is only ONE type innovation, and there are many more, e.g., better trading partners, changing habits, etc. [The Economist on "More Crop per Drop"]
The trouble is that anti-globalization, anti-business people also oppose markets. If they will not accept Monsanto, and they will not accept markets, then how do they propose to address the food problem? Their common response -- live a virtuous life -- does not work for the 90% of people on the planet who are more interested in having kids, watching TV and driving cars. What about that 90%?
Given a choice between frying pan and fire, I would hope that the antis would look more favorably on markets (as the lessor of two evils :). Strange bedfellows, indeed.
Bottom Line: Problems can be solved in various ways, and markets (price signals, incentives!) allow the fullest expression of human creativity.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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