Genetically-modified (“GM”) crops help the environment in many ways. They reduce the need for pesticide use by engineering plants to be more blight-resistant. And by reducing the amount of land needed to grow crops, they allow forests to survive and expand. (That’s also true of improved agricultural techniques generally. As agriculture has become more technologically advanced and productive, farmland in America has actually shrunken in much of the country. As a result, forests have expanded, and now cover more land in America than they did in the early 20th Century).
But opposition to GM foods persists, even though scientists have found GM foods to be safe, and WTO tribunals have found restrictions on them to be based on nothing more than irrational prejudice, and thus a violation of international trade law.
Greg Conko and Henry Miller write in England’s The Guardian about how European regulations banning scientifically-approved GM crops, coupled with the diversion of corn to ethanol production, are harming European livestock production. The regulations are driving up costs up feeding European livestock to the point of “causing panic among livestock producers,” making pork and poultry less affordable for working class people.
Strangely, short-sighted European people often support these destructive regulations. I just got back from southern France, where my in-laws, people of modest means, cheered the fact that the French National Assembly just thumbed its nose at international tribunals by voting to perpetuate bans on GM foods previously declared illegal by the WTO. I don’t know why they’re cheering. They already struggle to make ends meet. Now they’re going to have to pay even more to feed themselves and their families as a result of the ban on GM foods.
Other policies supported by European bureaucrats — ethanol mandates and subsidies — are also driving up food prices, as well as causing worldwide hunger, rioting, and civil unrest, by turning food for the poor into fuel for the rich, in a process that is environmentally destructive and economically inefficient. The Indian and South African finance ministers have called for ethanol mandates and subsidies to be ended to save the lives of starving people in the Third World, but European officials have obstinately rebuffed suggestions that those policies be reconsidered.