An actual piece that I actually wrote (not just reblogged) is up at IATP’s Think Forward blog: Science means having to say “I’m Sorry”:
I’m sorry, but saying that the Green Revolution saved millions of lives is unscientific.
Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, the president of the World Food Prize Foundation, recently made this widely repeated, but unscientific, claim in responding to columnist Rekha Basu. Basu recently criticized the foundation for awarding this year’s World Food Prize to three scientists who helped invent crop genetic modification. (Two of who are current or former vice presidents at Monsanto and Syngenta.) Quinn notes that the founder of the World Food Prize, famed Green Revolution researcher Norman Borlaug, specifically encouraged the foundation to consider these three scientists before his death. In his piece, Quinn admonishes Basu that “Dr. Borlaug would tell us it is our responsibility to use the power of science” to help solve widespread malnutrition. He does this shortly after lauding Borlaug as “the man who saved millions from famine and death in India and Pakistan.”
- See more at: http://www.iatp.org/blog#sthash.eSF37FjY.dpuf
I expect to have some push-back, and it will be great to see any evidence I missed for a larger role of the GR. (I found Robert Paarlberg’s lack of solid evidence rather than assertion… disturbing.) It is true that day-to-day people tend to “prove” the GR’s effects by pointing to food supply increasing, despite an insufficient food supply rarely (though not never) being the key cause of hunger. While it’s certainly possible that the GR was a different case, it’s definitely true that the popular version of the story doesn’t rise past “More Food therefore Less Hunger”, despite more sophisticated analyses that put the effects of growing food supply as more or less the second strongest determinant of decreased hunger (after women’s education). Yet it doesn’t seem to get the second most attention. Anyway. I look forward to a good conversation!
Janel M. Skreen recently successfully defended her M.S. thesis, “Implications of Social Networks in Agriculture: Nitrogen Use Efficiencies of North Coast California Winegrape Growers”, to great acclaim. I’ve received *several* unsolicited comments from WSU colleagues about how great her defense presentation was, and how her work did a good job showing off the power of the kind of socio-ecological research our lab was meant to support. So, congrats Janel! And thanks to her other two committee members, co-chair Prof. Steve Sylvester, and my dear friend Dr. Jennifer Blesh.
What a banner summer for the Chappell Lab, thanks to the excellent students we’ve had working in it! And James hasn’t even posted about his adventures in the Peruvian Ant Course yet…
So, we wish Janel the best of luck in her future endeavors! (Including getting her thesis published!
Agroecoperson Amber Heckelman was recently awarded the Bullitt Foundation Environmental Fellowship Award (it’s been all the news, what do you mean you hadn’t already heard?
We’re all tremendously proud of Amber and excited about this next phase in her research and profound early career accomplishment!
It is a fittingly high note, one hopes, to “go out on”, as the Chappell Lab at WSU-V will not, formally speaking, be continuing. I (Jahi) have taken a position at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. It’s not yet a given that I won’t continue blogging here (as sparse as said blogging has been for a while now), but there will be some sort of transition.
I anticipate AgroEcoPeople continuing, as the people I’ve worked with are still around, and indeed, I’m still working with Amber, Jude, James, and Becca, as well as Emily, Michael, Janel, and Jess, but we shall see what happens. But watch this space, if you would! ~ErstwhileAgroEcoProf/J