Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday Hope Blogging

A couple of months ago, I discussed a hybridized high-yield West African rice called NERICA, which is admirably resistant to pests.

Now, Australian researchers have used selective breeding to create a variety of food crops with extra-high levels of nutrients. The motivation, as you might imagine, is to reduce worldwide deaths from malnutrition. Professor Ross Welch explains:

If you look at the number of deaths per year from diet-related disease it's approaching 24 million a year that lose their lives due to malnutrition, primarily from micronutrient malnutrition. And in the scheme of things that's much, much more than you can attribute to any other type of death, be it the occupational health and safety, AIDS, smoking, you name it. It doesn't even come close to those numbers.

So this is a massive problem globally and it comes from the fact that agriculture sees itself in production, in farming, in Ag industry and not part of nutrition.
Amen to that. The beauty of the Australian research is that it involves no bioengineering whatsoever, and yet it offers the nutritional gains that biotech bullies like Monsanto promised but failed miserably to deliver. This poses some serious problems for Monsanto's PR campaign, to say the least. And since the Australian crops are the work of compassionate and intelligent people, instead of fiends in human form, there are no restrictions on seed use; poor farmers can save and share them.

I was also pleased to read (courtesy of Triple Pundit) about some positive trends in land remediation. For one thing, it seems that the former "death strip" that marked the path of the Iron Curtain is being turned into a massive greenbelt:
For the past two years, a coalition of environmental and community development groups has pushed to turn the Iron Curtain zone into a mosaic of parks, nature preserves, and organic farms stretching from the Arctic shores of Finland and Russia to the arid frontier between Bulgaria and Greece.
There's also an interesting article about Britain's ambitious Changing Places program:
Britain's urban wastelands have been transformed into parks and wildlife reserves with the help of 500,000 volunteer workers.

In less than a decade, some of Britain's worst wastelands, derelict collieries, former chemical dumps, old quarries and industrial areas have been transformed into parks, wildlife areas, gardens and sports facilities.
In a very different frame of mind than I inhabit today, I once argued that President Kerry (remember him?) should bring back the Civilian Conservation Corps:
The Civilian Conservation Corps, which operated from 1934 to 1937, was an environmental remediation program that put millions of people to work maintaining and restoring America's wetlands, forests, beaches, and parks. Because these projects can take time, the program provided free lodging for workers, allowing the government to keep costs down while still providing workers with a living wage.
It sounds like the EU is moving in a somewhat similar direction, which'll give me the sort of vicarious thrill that normal people get from pornography. These perfidious non-Americans are also exploring radical concepts like collecting rainwater, which is as despicable an example of postmodern Marxist-Leninist do-gooder authoritarianism as I've ever seen. If God had meant us to collect rainwater, He would've given us giant saucer-shaped heads.

And last, on a more personal note, I'm thrilled beyond words to learn about the arrival of biodegradable packing tape. Speaking as a longtime eBay seller, this is pretty much a dream come true!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Living in the US in the Bush administration gives a new meaning to "left behind", and I am not referring to the Rapture.