Guardian on the food crisis: nothing to do with global warming

UPDATE: Willis Eschenbach eviscerates Bill McKibben on the global food production issue here

Despite paid agenda driven bloviations of “Climate-driven food insecurity“, even environmental media king The Guardian sees the real reasons behind it, and it isn’t global warming aka “climate change”. Instead, blame gets squarely placed on weather, a new virulent strain of wheat rust, the U.N.’s policies related to GM regulation, shifting economies, and biofuels.

Here’s some excerpts and rebuttals:

There are several causes of rising prices. First, large-scale disasters have precipitated localised crop failures, some of which have had broad ripple effects – for example, Russia’s ban on grain exports through at least the end of this calendar year resulted from fires and drought.

We know now and for certain that was not caused by global warming, it was simply weather. NOAA’s Climate Science Investigation team came squarely to that conclusion, and found global warming blameless.

Second, deadly strains of an evolving wheat pathogen (a rust) named Ug99 are increasingly threatening yields in the major wheat-growing areas of southern and eastern Africa, the central Asian Republics, the Caucasus, the Indian subcontinent, South America, Australia and North America.

In the FAO 2008 International conference on Wheat Stem Rust UG99 – A threat to food security report (PDF), neither “global warming” or “climate change” are even mentioned in the report. So there appears to be none of the usual irrational “global warming causes everything” linkage, even within the U.N.

Third, rising incomes in emerging markets like China and India have increased the ability of an expanding middle class to shift from a grain-based diet to one that contains more meat.

A lot of this comes from environmental policy, pushing manufacturing jobs there. While the US and EU have gotten cleaner, China and India have absorbed wealth and the manufacturing pollution of the west.

And fourth, against this backdrop of lessened supply and heightened demand, private investment in R&D on innovative practices and technologies has been discouraged by arbitrary and unscientific national and international regulatory barriers – against, in particular, new varieties of plants produced with modern genetic engineering (aka recombinant DNA technology or genetic modification, or GM). Genetic engineering offers plant breeders the tools to make crops do spectacular new things. In more than two dozen countries, farmers are using genetically engineered crop varieties to produce higher yields, with lower inputs and reduced impact on the environment.

Irrational green fears of “frankenfood” cause regulation of what they fear most. That affects the poor the most, which are traditionally the ones who vote for the left and their policies.

And finally, the biofuels link:

In fact, the United States and Europe are diverting vast and increasing amounts of land and agricultural production into making ethanol. The United States is approaching the diversion of 40% of the corn harvest for fuel and the EU has a goal of 10% biofuel use by 2020. The implications are worrisome. On 9 February, the US department of agriculture reported that the ethanol industry’s projected orders for 2011 rose 8.4%, to 13.01bn bushels, leaving the United States with about 675m bushels of corn left at the end of the year. That is the lowest surplus level since 1996.

Stop burning food, stop blaming “global warming” for just about everything, and face real problems head on, and the world’s poor might get fed.

Full Guardian article here

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James Sexton

“Stop burning food, stop blaming “global warming” for just about everything, and face real problems head on, and the world’s poor might get fed.”
—————————————————————————–
I used to try to be generous and believe some people are simply misguided in their efforts to help humanity. I am more and more convinced that these are purposeful steps. I believe there are some that are happy to see people starve.

Jack

Maybe the goal is to NOT feed the world’s poor.

Roger Knights

Jack says:
March 26, 2011 at 8:20 am
Maybe the goal is to NOT feed the world’s poor.

Comforting the afflicted comes in a distant second to afflicting the comfortable. That’s what makes them feel One-Up–and that’s what it’s all about: demonizing the Other, scoring points, winning the game.

Hugh Pepper

As you and the Guardian point out, there are many reasons why the world is on the edge of a food crisis. One of those reasons is climate related (This is not a controversial statement.) Droughts, floods, and cold weather combine to threaten crop production. You cited Russia. but this is the case in many other areas of the world. Over use of shallow aquifers (Saudi Arabia, and the USA are also major contributors to the problem. As we destroy wetlands we diminish the natural way of storing groundwater, and as glaciers in the Himalayas melt, arable land downstream in India and Pakistan are threatened precipitously. When combined with the declining fisheries around the world, desertification, a global drop in water tables, and a loss of top soil, the global capacity to produce sufficient food for the 90 million new people who will sit at our tables this year (245,000, new people tonight) is jeopardized.

Hugh Pepper,
Stop it! You’re scaring yourself. None of that has any lasting effect on food production. Bad government policies are to blame, not global warming.

Two little hobbyhorses of mine. Let us not forget cellulose ethanol. Hopefully we will get some real production in 2012. Let us also not forget that one of the byproducts of producing corn ethanol is a high protein cattle food. Not all the food in the corn goes to fuel.

Douglas DC

James Sexton- I have been convinced for a very long time that greenies go to bed at night with the gnawing fear of healthy, happy,PROSPEROUS dark skinned
people…
(Being mixed race myself I have had issues with these Klowns for years…)

Jack says:
March 26, 2011 at 8:20 am
Maybe the goal is to NOT feed the world’s poor.

That global neo-malthusian method has been constantly in my mind, but being naive, I still try to explain the high food prices etc. by mere atrocious stupidity instead of evil conspiracy. I mean, I feel much better that way.

R. Gates

Funny how so many on both sides of the AGW issue need to see things in black and white. Changing climates AND periods of rotten weather AND bad policies AND bad practices can lead to food scarcity issues. To focus on any one of them is to miss the bigger picture.

Skeptic

James Sexton is right on when he says “face real problems head on” and Hugh Pepper points out the problems of “desertification, a global drop in water tables”. It’s time to stop wasting billions upon billions of dollars on the foolishness of “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” or “Climate Disruption” or whatever it’s labelled as now. And it’s time to stop fattening the bank accounts of the swindlers like Gore and Pachauri. It’s time to spend the money on de-salination plants to irrigate the land for crops and livestock. We need O2, CO2, H2O and warmth to survive and progress.

wsbriggs

Hugh seems to have missed all the corrections on glaciers melting, the existence of the green belt in Africa during the pre-Roman, Roman times – now called a desert, trees in Lebanon – man chopped them down for centuries and they grew back.
None are so blind as those who will not see – or a climate modeler with a new Petaflop machine on order.

eyal_p

It seems the problem of food shortage is not caused by global warming/climate change/climate disruption/climate whatever, but rather by “Global Warming”.
The unbelievable notion of growing fuel instead of food is sickening.
And the real cause for that is the Green Scare that actually promotes this insanity.

Hoser

A concern about GM food is not that it is modified, but that it is being used by some to gain an exclusive market. The government has enacted new laws and imposed new regulations to support their corporate partners. Together, they gain control over our food, and us.
http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2011/0223/Control-over-your-food-Why-Monsanto-s-GM-seeds-are-undemocratic
From the text:
• Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta combined own an astounding 47 percent of the global seed market
• The seeds are non-replenishing and must be purchased anew each season, eliminating the time-honored farmer tradition of saving and re-using seeds
• Thousands of farmers who have been sued and spied upon for alleged “seed piracy” – at least 2,391 farmers in 19 states through 2006
• Even with buffer zones to segregate GM and organic fields, “Some degree of cross-pollination will occur regardless of what mechanism is going to be put in place”
• The GM threats to biodiversity and democracy are closely related. When you pair proprietary technology that’s designed to retain company control of seeds (the very lifeblood of our food supply) along with highly concentrated market control, you get a hazardous blend of ecological, economic, and political centralization.
The pollens carried by wind or insect vectors to traditional seed crops introduce unwanted DNA sequences that can be used by GM corporations to sue farmers for seed piracy. The real risk is in reduction of biodiversity, that is, making our food supply more uniformly prone to disease. The fact that this rust UG99 is racing around the world suggests the problem is uniformity of the crop.
http://www.primalseeds.org/bioloss.htm
From the text:
• Since the beginning of agriculture farmers have encouraged and developed many different traits in cultivated crops by the selective sowing of seed. Eventually hundreds of thousands of distinct varieties of widely cultivated crops evolved. These varieties are known as landraces.
• Filipino farmers once grew thousands of kinds of rice. Today only two varieties account for 98% of the area sown. Mexico has lost an estimated 80% of its varieties of maize. Of 8000 traditional rice varieties being grown in China in 1949, only 50 remained in 1970.
• Crops saved by resistance found in the landraces: U.S. wheat in 1904 and 1917, Indian rice in 1943, U.S. oats in the 1940’s and 50’s, and U.S. corn and Soviet wheat in the early 70’s.
• There has been erosion of the genetic base of crop varieties to such an extent that almost all the top breeders are using the same genetic material.
UG99 is being used by GM corporations to break down the barriers to GM wheat, currently not approved, but being tested now. GM wheat might defeat UG99, however, the victory may be only temporary. Further reductions in genetic diversity could make the GM crop even more prone to a future disease. A population geneticist will tell you the strength of a species is in its diversity, not its immediate traits. The winning traits now may not be what is needed in the future when conditions change.
Diseases come back with a vengance at times. Malaria was eradicated from much of the world through the use of DDT. As it returns, anti-malaria drugs are becoming less and less effective as the plasmodium parasite develops resistance to the drugs. The time required to acquire resistance is getting shorter. Similar problems are occurring with MRSA staff infections and TB, for example.
Pests will find a way to attack any crop. If the crop lacks genetic diversity, there are more opportunities for pests to grow that successfully attack it. These pests then can spread to the entire crop having the same characteristics. GM crops may stop one pest, but leave us even more vulnerable to the next pest.
Centralized command and control government is not the answer for climate or for food.

Hoser

Oops, auto fingers: should be ‘staph infections’ (staphylococcus).

Alexander K

I have no idea what motivates Greens, but I suspect a mix of Marxism and stupidity must be major factors; when I look at the nonsense kids are being taught about so-called environmental issues, my suspicions strengthen. If all kids, not just a few, were taught how to produce vegetables and flowers (everyone needs beauty in their lives) and some basic practical animal husbandry, we might make some progress to dispelling the silly myth that a slightly warmer world id a frightening prospect.

Hugh Pepper

Fear is a useful emotion if it serves to alert you to realities which may cause harm to your life or to the lives of others. When food doesn’t grow, for whatever reason, people suffer as a consequence.
It is always best to fully understand the causes of the problem. When aquifers drain it is usually because they are being overdrawn. (too much use, not enough recharge)This is the situation in the mid west USA where the Ogalala aquifer is rapidly depleting.
It is always a combination of factors which cause the problem., and yes government actions can have an exacerbating impact. A failure to regulate, for example can create a problem, as can poorly planned development. But it is clear that we are going to have to get very serious about protecting watersheds and the ecosystems in which they are embedded. Changing climate, population growth, resource depletion and other factors, all have to be considered when attempting to fully understand the present and looming food crisis.

tom in indy

@Jim Cripwell,
Let us also not forget that one of the byproducts of producing corn ethanol is a high protein cattle food.
C’mon man! That is weak! The cost of corn based livestock feed is going through the roof! In fact, the high cost of feed is one of the main reasons why the herd is not keeping up with demand. Recall ECON101, inpust costs goes up and supply goes down.

ShrNfr

Any mono-culture is open to invasion. Just ask Windows users. But having said that, it’s time to plant corn for food and not for fuel. You get rat mileage, it wastes energy, and it ruins your car. As for genetic engineering, we are all genetically engineered apes. They were genetically engineered other things. The engineer was random mutation. I do not see the problem.

Don Shaw

Jim Cripwell says:
March 26, 2011 at 9:03 am
Two little hobbyhorses of mine. Let us not forget cellulose ethanol. Hopefully we will get some real production in 2012
Jim, I hate to break the news to you, but the Cellulosic ethanol plants have been a total failure. One of the subsidized leading Companies that we given awards has shut down and it appears that investors (except Obama) have pulled out. I doubt that they will start up anytime soon.
The EPA has scaled back significantly on two occasions the amount of ethanol these cellulosic plants will contribute.
Expect more corn and I suspect Obama has made a deal with his socialist friend in Brazil to end or reduce the high tarrifs on imported ethanol. Maybe he will give them another $ 2 billion dollars to match the loan he gave to Petrobras the Brazillian and Soros owned oil company.
Unfortunately we have become a victim of Media Hype on cellulosic ethanol:
http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/2011/02/17/the-medias-role-in-the-range-fuels-fiasco/

Curiousgeorge

Jim Cripwell says:
March 26, 2011 at 9:03 am
Two little hobbyhorses of mine. Let us not forget cellulose ethanol. Hopefully we will get some real production in 2012. Let us also not forget that one of the byproducts of producing corn ethanol is a high protein cattle food. Not all the food in the corn goes to fuel.
As with corn or other crops grown for fuel, there is tremendous incentive to maximize the efficiency and profit of the ethanol/biodiesel process thru hybridization and genetic manipulation of the feed stock. Doesn’t make a bit of difference whether the feedstock is switchgrass, trees, or anything else. Cellulosic ethanol plants prefer fast growing, small diameter trees that maximize the desired traits and that are easy to transport and process. Once the available “trash cellulose ” is used up, this will eventually result in huge tracts of land surrounding each plant that are dedicated to a particular GM ethanol feedstock, and devoid of any “biodiversity”. In other words; a monoculture with all of the issues associated with that. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

EU-Lex

Put that genetically mutated food where the rising sun doesn’t shine.

Andrew30

Hugh Pepper says: March 26, 2011 at 8:38 am
“, and as glaciers in the Himalayas melt, arable land downstream in India and Pakistan are threatened precipitously.”
I think that it would be considerably worse if the glaceirs did Not melt, that would dry up all the rivers right away. But since they are going to around till at least 2350 I do not understand whay you would make such a statement, unless you are trying to scare people with your lies.
Same for “desertification”, the desserts are in retreat right now; did you not get the memo that global warming now caused more rain and snow? The story that global warming woud cause less rain and snow went out of fashion last year.
Hugh: I suggest that you update your cut-and-paste pallet with the current crop of lies, these old ones are not woking anymore.

Latitude

What an ignorant bunch of garbage…
…the climate they try to talk about is nothing more than weather
and the weather has always changed
Take 40% off the top of the worlds largest producer, and what do you think happens?

Mike

AW: “We know now and for certain that was not caused by global warming, it was simply weather. NOAA’s Climate Science Investigation team came squarely to that conclusion, and found global warming “blameless”.”
Certain? Blameless? Those aren’t the sorts of words skeptics use.
The word blameless is not in the NOAA study. It says: “While a contribution to the heat wave from climate change could not be entirely ruled out, if it was present, it played a much smaller role than naturally occurring meteorological processes in explaining this heat wave’s intensity.”
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20110309_russianheatwave.html
While the Guardian article is interesting it is important to keep our skeptical thinking caps on. The NOAA study also said:
“And while the scientists could not attribute the intensity of this particular heat wave to climate change, they found that extreme heat waves are likely to become increasingly frequent in the region in coming decades.”
BTW, NOAA has said the 2003 heat wave was made more likely to AGW.
http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/pd/climate/factsheets/canindividual.pdf
“For example, in the case of the 2003 European heat
wave, a climate model was run including only historical changes
in natural factors that affect the climate, such as volcanic activity
and changes in solar output. Next, the model was run again
including both human and natural factors, which produced a
simulation of the evolution of the European climate that was
much closer to that which had actually occurred. Based on these
experiments, it was estimated that over the 20th century, hu-
man influences more than doubled the risk of having a summer
in Europe as hot as that of 2003, and that in the absence of hu-
man influences, the risk would probably have been one in many
hundred years. ”
Let’s not cherry pick just the reports we like. (Activists on both sides do this.)

Andrew30

Hugh;
Before you start to cut-paste in the buts about the flodding in Pakistan last your you should consider the Pakistani flood commissions interim report which they submited yesterday.
“On December 15, 2010, the Supreme Court had constituted a four-member commission to investigate the issue of breaching of dykes and unauthorised diversion of floodwaters by influential people to save their lands during the floods.”
“The commission had been tasked with assessing the damages as well as finding the reasons due to which the dykes were breached during the floods and also prepare suggestions about compensation to the people who suffered due to the diversion of floodwaters.”
“The court had taken suo motu notice on the letters of renowned lawyer Fakharuddin G Ebrahim, Senate’s Deputy Chairman Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali and others, requesting the chief justice to probe the matter of the breaches in dykes and unauthorised diversion of floodwaters by influential people.”
So it appears that much of the flooding was man made, but not for the reasons that you might have us believe. For some reason I do not expect that we will get an update from the western media as to why the flodding was so extensive and was not contained by the dykes.
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20113\26\story_26-3-2011_pg7_9

Don Shaw

Jim,
More on the failures of cellulosic ethanol and the EPA scale back of their to 2% of the original expectations.
Time to get honest with the public.
http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/2010/12/01/cellulosic-ethanol-reality-begins-to-set-in/Snap Back to Reality
“In early 2010, 100 years after the first cellulosic ethanol plant was built in the U.S., the EPA recognized that the cellulosic ethanol mandates could not be met. They subsequently reduced the 100 million gallon mandate for 2010 to 6.5 million gallons. (Actual qualifying production of cellulosic ethanol through October 2010 is zero gallons). MIT Technology Review posed the question What’s Holding Biofuels Back? I responded with the answer in What’s Really Holding Cellulosic Biofuels Back. I have maintained that future mandates would also have to be cut, and the EIA recently indicated that they agree, at least for 2011:
EIA cuts cellulosic producers from 2011 list”
“The U.S. DOE’s Energy Information Administration has completed its predictions for next year’s cellulosic biofuels production and estimates that actual production levels will be much lower than anticipated. Earlier this year, the U.S. EPA proposed a reduction in the cellulosic biofuels portion of the 2011 renewable fuel standard (RFS) to between 5 and 17.1 million gallons, down drastically from the 250 million gallons initially called for in the 2007 RFS. But according to an Oct. 20 letter sent from EIA Administrator Richard Newell to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, the EPA’s reduced target is still too high. The EIA suggests that a more likely 2011 production total for cellulosic biofuels is approximately 3.94 million gallons. Additionally, the EIA said half of the facilities on the EPA’s list won’t produce biofuels next year.”
“So the EIA projects that 2011 cellulosic ethanol production will be 3.94 million gallons, less than 2% of the originally mandated amount. They suggest that the EPA, having cut the 2011 estimate from 250 million to the range of 5 to 17.1 million gallons, is still much too optimistic, and that half of the facilities that the EPA expects to produce cellulosic fuel will not. Following the EIA story, the EPA has come back and revised their 2011 numbers down to 6.6 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol.”

DirkH

Hugh Pepper says:
March 26, 2011 at 9:51 am
“Fear is a useful emotion if it serves to alert you to realities which may cause harm to your life or to the lives of others. ”
So you’re fine with fearmongers. That would put you in the warmist camp then.

jorgekafkazar

R. Gates says: “Funny how so many on both sides of the AGW issue need to see things in black and white. Changing climates AND periods of rotten weather AND bad policies AND bad practices can lead to food scarcity issues. To focus on any one of them is to miss the bigger picture.”
Yes, and focusing on a fictitious one can prevent solution of the real ones.

Pamela Gray

Based on logic demonstrated above in Mike’s comment, the recent cold spell in Europe must then also be made more likely by anthropogenic influence. To which I suspect Mike will agree with.
Stated thus: CO2 influence creates a greater likelyhood of catastrophic heat spells, but then is overrun with natural climate variations to produce catastrophic cold spells. Is that about right Mike?

North of 43 and south of 44

Jack says:
March 26, 2011 at 8:20 am
Maybe the goal is to NOT feed the world’s poor.
__________________________________________________________
You nailed it, they have got to get rid of at least 95% of people to save the planet.

John Cooper

Jack says:
Maybe the goal is to NOT feed the world’s poor.

Same as with DDT and Malaria?

Mike

Whuffos? Aren’t these the people who look before they leap? That is, they are the skeptics. AW is no whuffo.

Hugh Pepper

Anedrew30 comments that it would be worse if the glaciers did not melt.Well Andrew, you might consult with one of the many studies conducted in the Himilayas which document the decline of ice mass throughout the region. (Ice mass is easily measured from Thermal imaging. Use Google and see this for yourself.) The India Climate Portal remarks that the “the life-giving glaciers __the water towers of Asia___ are melting at two times the rate of surface temperature.” Studies of Chinese Glaciers, containing huge quantities of freshwater, which flood through the Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra Rivers note that declining runoff will result in “hydrologic disruptions” as a result of recent warming, “thereby threatening regional rivers and water resources.”
Satellite mapping shows that 80% of glaciers in western China have retreated with the greatest percentage occurring on the north slopes of the Himilayas. It is noted by several authors that the retreat here is faster than elsewhere in the world.
Writing in the Journal of Hydrology, Singh and Bangston comment that “as the area of glaciers decreases due to higher melt rate, the water availability from the complex basins will be reduced.”
The reasonable conclusion acknowledged throughout the literature is that the declining availability of water for use in irrigation downstream will dramatically impair the ability to produce enough food for an expanding population.

R. Gates

jorgekafkazar says:
March 26, 2011 at 11:03 am
R. Gates says: “Funny how so many on both sides of the AGW issue need to see things in black and white. Changing climates AND periods of rotten weather AND bad policies AND bad practices can lead to food scarcity issues. To focus on any one of them is to miss the bigger picture.”
Yes, and focusing on a fictitious one can prevent solution of the real ones.
______
The best solution to any problem is based on understanding all the causes, and this means taking the most broad perspective, and then every thing comes down to putting your resources where they can do the most long-term good. AGW skeptics seem to want to deny any role in the food supply disruption to climate change, which is silly, because changes in the climate have always affected the human food supply. The only real issue here is, whether or not humans are causing some of that climate change. What there is no doubt about is that policies and practices also affect the food supply and so, adjusting these seems to be a better use of current resources.

Dr. Dave

Anthony,
Sir, you are on a roll this morning! Your comments on this thread are fantastic. I especially want to thank you for your comment on GM food. Mankind has a multi-thousand year history of genetically modifying foods. Consider cattle, swine and domestic fowl. Think they started out that way? Does anyone think domestic corn, wheat or rice crops bear any resemblance to the very same crops grown 200 years ago? How did we get seedless grapes and seedless oranges?

Let’s take ethanol out of our gas tanks and put it into whiskey bottles where it belongs.

Mike,
Anthony is a scientific skeptic. You don’t like it because you are unable to make a convincing case for runaway global warming. Linking to Skeptical Pseudo-Science is the best you can do.
[Or as Dr J.S. Hall refers to it: the ” ‘Skeptical Science’ alarmist fanboi blog.”]

Mike

@Pam: The logic of my post is to look at the research. It is possible the low Arctic sea ice extent influenced the Arctic Oscillation and played a role in the colder weather in some parts of the Northern hemisphere. Researches are still debating the issue and I don’t have an opinion on it. Julienne Stroeve seems to think the, if any, is small. She may well be correct. But see also: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2011/010511.html.

Mike

Smoky, if science was done by name calling you’d be a scientist. It isn’t and you’re not.
REPLY: actually, I think climate science today IS done by name calling. Go count the number of times the word “denier” appears at Real Climate “Climate Science from climate scientists” – Anthony

Al Gore's Holy Hologram

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

@Mike,
How would you know what my background is? In fact, you are making an incorrect assumption. You’re just mad because there is no testable, real world evidence of runaway global warming. And there never was.

Bruce Cobb

Food-wise, mankind, and all of nature for that matter is far better off in a warmer, C02-enriched world. The challenge, which the Warmists can’t or don’t want to see is in fact cooling. That has been true throughout history and will continue to be true.
Those who worry about things like some glaciers losing mass, or perhaps a bit of the Arctic ice disappearing are indeed worried about the silliest of all things. It is when those glaciers and the Arctic ice start growing again, which indeed they will, thus locking up that life-giving moisture, and heralding in a colder, harsher climate that mankind should be concerned.

Robertvdl

I don’t think there is a food shortage on this planet. I think that for the first time in the history of Mankind there is enough to feed all of us.
It is all about power (control) You remember the movie ‘Soylent Green ‘ with Charlton Heston?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEzD5St_JZU
I like what Hoser said:
March 26, 2011 at 9:40 am
A concern about GM food is not that it is modified, but that it is being used by some to gain an exclusive market. The government has enacted new laws and imposed new regulations to support their corporate partners. Together, they gain control over our food, and us.

1DandyTroll

@Hugh Pepper
“Satellite mapping shows that 80% of glaciers in western China have retreated with the greatest percentage occurring on the north slopes of the Himilayas. ”
That would mean that they would have data of, at least, twenty four thousand glaciers, since China has more than 30 000 glaciers. However the peeps doing the administration of the worlds collected amount of glaciers says they only have accurate measurement of some five thousand glaciers (that is for which they can confirm is either retreating or advancing) of the more than one hundred and ten thousand glaciers in the databases.
So either they, who supposedly know, are utterly wrong by an order of several magnitudes or you’re lying through your teeth or don’t know what’s what.

Ed Waage

This is an opinion piece by Henry Miller. From his bio link: “Henry Miller is a physician and molecular biologist. He is the Robert Wesson fellow in scientific philosophy and public policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and was formerly founding director of the Office of Biotechnology at the FDA. He is the co-author of The Frankenfood Myth.”
Miller’s views are probably far different from the Guardian’s editors. We should not conclude from this opinion piece that the Guardian finally “gets it”.

mcfarmer

To second Anthony’s comment on breeding corn. We have been beereding corn for a long time. When we developed hybrid corn there were people who did not want it. And as far as breeding one technique used in the past was exposing the plant to radiation. It worked but you never knew everything you changed. With Gmo products you know exactly the traits you put in the plant. A proud grower of Round up Ready alfalfa.

DirkH

R. Gates says:
March 26, 2011 at 11:34 am
“The best solution to any problem is based on understanding all the causes, and this means taking the most broad perspective, and then every thing comes down to putting your resources where they can do the most long-term good. AGW skeptics seem to want to deny any role in the food supply disruption to climate change, ”
Thanks – given the enormous prize tag attached to fighting AGW, you have just convincingly argued to fix the other, real problems first.

Latitude

Hugh Pepper says:
March 26, 2011 at 11:33 am
Anedrew30 comments that it would be worse if the glaciers did not melt.Well Andrew, you might consult with one of the many studies conducted in the Himilayas which document the decline of ice mass throughout the region
=============================================
Black Carbon Deposits on Himalayan Ice Threaten Earth’s “Third Pole”
Black soot deposited on Tibetan glaciers has contributed significantly to the retreat of the world’s largest non-polar ice masses, according to new research by scientists from NASA and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Soot absorbs incoming solar radiation and can speed glacial melting when deposited on snow in sufficient quantities.
http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/carbon-pole.html
====================================================
Black soot and the survival of Tibetan glaciers
We find evidence that black soot aerosols deposited on Tibetan
glaciers have been a significant contributing factor to observed
rapid glacier retreat. Reduced black soot emissions, in addition to
reduced greenhouse gases, may be required to avoid demise of
Himalayan glaciers and retain the benefits of glaciers for seasonal
fresh water supplies
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/12/07/0910444106.full.pdf

grandpa boris

coincidentally, there is an in-depth article on the role of policy and politics in the food crises and the current wave of revolutions in the middle east:
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67672/annia-ciezadlo/let-them-eat-bread?page=show
weather and climate change are not mentioned in this article because they aren’t the real causes behind the issues.

Tim Clark

Hoser says:
March 26, 2011 at 9:40 am
• The seeds are non-replenishing and must be purchased anew each season, eliminating the time-honored farmer tradition of saving and re-using seeds
• Thousands of farmers who have been sued and spied upon for alleged “seed piracy” – at least 2,391 farmers in 19 states through 2006,

I agree with most of what you stated, but you are incorrect here. Crop species with male sterility genes produce hybrids whose seeds grow but are sterile, as in corn. Soybeans and wheat at present cannot be bred to produce sterile seeds. The farmers were sued for saving and planting soybean seeds.