Scientist Who Saved a Billion Lives Dies; Congress Blocks Reform of Law Based on Junk Science

Norman Borlaug, the scientist who saved a billion lives by fathering the Green Revolution, died Saturday at the age of 95. His work in developing new crops to feed the world’s hungry in places like India earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a Congressional Gold Medal, even though his work was seldom mentioned by the press. Ronald Bailey notes that Borlaug “saved more human lives than any other” person in history.

Borlaug was attacked by some on the extreme left, such as a writer in The Nation magazine, because he was a staunch defender of new agricultural technologies and genetic engineering to feed the Earth’s burgeoning population.

Speaking of wars on science: a new toy “safety” law, the CPSIA, that is based on junk science, has wiped out countless small toy companies, while giving a special “exemption” to an “industry giant” that imported tainted Chinese toys, and doing nothing to make children safer.

This perverse new law has resulted in tens of thousands of harmless children’s books being removed from the shelves and thrown in the trash (the illustrations in children’s books sometimes had tiny trace quantities of lead, too small to harm any children, who don’t eat books).  It also resulted in thousands of trunkloads of harmless children’s clothing and toys being trashed, and bankrupted many second-hand clothing stores for poor kids.

In the Wall Street Journal today, legal commentator Walter Olson describes some of the havoc the new law has created. The Obama administration has turned a deaf ear to pleas for reform by critics of the new law, perhaps because a key provision of the CPSIA “was added by then-Sen. Barack Obama.” All but 3 Congressmen voted in favor of this foolish law, but some in Congress now regret their votes to pass it.  Most Republicans, and a tiny handful of Democrats, now want to change the law to make it less burdensome and discriminatory, but to no avail.  Congressional leaders like Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) are refusing to make any changes to this perverse law.