July 15, 2003
Center for Consumer Freedom News
Grappling with Starvation
Not content with telling Americans what to eat, Jeremy Rifkin is now subjecting the British to his rantings in a regular opinion column for the Guardian newspaper, reports the Center for Consumer Freedom. In a recent installment regarding anti-American technophobia, Rifkin attacked the United States? plan to combat the European Union?s moratorium on genetically enhanced crops. Responding to the Bush Administration?s case that the moratorium exacerbates Africa?s hunger pangs, Rifkin trotted out the following classic non sequitur:
Today, 21 percent of the food grown in the developing world is destined for animal consumption. In many developing countries, more than a third of the grain is now being grown for livestock. The animals, in turn, will be eaten by the world?s wealthiest consumers in the northern industrial countries. The result is that the world?s richest consumers eat a diet high in animal protein, while the poorest people on earth are left with little land to grow food grain for their own families.
If only Belgians and Canadians would ?go veg,? Rifkin suggests, there?d be enough food for everybody.
Unsurprisingly, Rifkin fails to mention that African nations sell livestock for hard cash, which is perhaps the single most helpful commodity in the developing world. More to the point, much of the land used to grow grain for animal consumption is unfit to grow food for human consumption. And greater per-acre yields ? the promise of biotech crops ? would mean more food for both animals and people. While Africans starve, Rifkin dreams the impossible dream of forcing a vegan diet on First- and Third-Worlders.
In truth, Rifkin?s claim is just the latest variation on the theme that the problem of famine is one of distribution, not supply. There is plenty of food, the argument goes, but undernourished children just aren?t getting it. And that?s a political problem, not a technological one.
Like much of what Rifkin writes, this is only half true. Starvation in Africa is in large measure a problem of distribution and politics. At the same time, if there?s more to distribute in the first place, fewer people will go hungry.
It?s a point so obvious that one doubts Jeremy Rifkin has missed it. He just finds it an inconvenient truth, and therefore chooses to ignore it in his quest to abolish biotech crops. At least he hasn?t missed the fact that there?s a hunger problem.
Hog Wild in California?
On the heels of their successful 2002 Florida ballot initiative (which gave pregnant sows Constitutional protection), animal-rights activists are now gearing up to duplicate their efforts in California.
The Farm Sanctuary recently alerted its own grassroots network in a May 16 e-mail: ?Our decision to go forward will depend on opinion polls to determine whether we have the public support needed to win in November 2004. If this initiative is indeed launched, thousands of volunteers will be needed to gather the 600,000 signatures required to place this initiative on the November 2004 ballot.?
At a similar meeting in West Palm Beach, back in 2000, Farm Sanctuary President Gene Bauston promised the assembled animal-rights leaders that he would make sure the Florida hog campaign had enough financial support. There?s no question he kept his word. Using an illegal national direct-mail scheme, Farm Sanctuary spent more than $465,000 in supposedly tax-exempt contributions directly to the Florida campaign?s Political Action Committee. Bauston and his group later paid a $50,000 fine, after the Florida Elections Commission found them guilty of 210 counts of campaign finance fraud.
In Florida, out-of-control animal rights groups, like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), provided most of the foot-soldiers needed to collect signatures. California is a traditional stronghold of both groups ? particularly HSUS, which recently took over another activist group called the Ark Trust, converting it into its own ?HSUS Hollywood? office.
Stay tuned. Florida?s pork farmers are already a thing of the past. Could the Golden State be far behind?