Oct. 15, 2009
In a speech today at the World Food Prize forum, Microsoft founder Bill Gates took the extreme environmental movement to task for putting rigid ideology ahead of basic human need.
Here's an excerpt of his comments: "Some people insist on an ideal vision of the environment. They have tried to restrict the spread of biotechnology into sub-Saharan Africa without regard to how much hunger and poverty might be reduced by it, or what the farmers themselves might want."
Gates noted that the international initiative "to help small farmers" in the developing world "is endangered by an ideological wedge" that pits higher productivity through the use of new agri-technologies and those who speak only of "sustainability," often a code word for policies that would allow people to die for the sake of perceived environmental "purity."
The Microsoft chief applauded some things that are anathema to the environmental purists, such as genetically-modified seeds that can increase crop yields and possibly even the nutritional content of such developing world staples as maize and sorghum. Drought-resistant seeds can be used by small farmers throughout Africa to help them feed their families and strengthen their nations' economies.
One of the world's wealthiest people, Gates and his foundation have poured an estimated $1.4 billion into combating hunger, malnutrition and disease in places like sub-Saharan Africa. Sadly, Gates is also a supporter of abortion-related "family planning" services in these regions. But he deserves credit both for his commitment to providing sustainable agriculture to the world's neediest populations and for taking on the radical environmental movement, which would rather see people die than advance dynamic new agriculture technologies that could save millions of lives.