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Anti-science Greenies keep Africa poor, says boffin

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What's happened to Sir David King, surface chemist and the former chief scientific advisor to the Government?

Perhaps something fell on his head.

The man dubbed the "King of Climate Porn" achieved notoriety at the turn of the decade as the architect of the Foot and Mouth holocaust - which unnecessarily slaughtered seven million animals, and cost the country billions of pounds. But King astonished observers by saying something sensible last week - and he promises to do so again tonight.

Speaking at the British Association's* Science Week, King will say that the Greenies' anti-science superstitions are causing unnecessary suffering in Africa. King blames "anti-poverty" campaigners, aid agencies and environmental activists for keeping modern farming techniques and bio-technology out of Africa.

"The suffering within [Africa], I believe, is largely driven by attitudes developed in the West which are somewhat anti-science, anti-technology - attitudes that lead towards organic farming, for example, attitudes that lead against the use of genetic technology for crops that could deal with increased salinity in the water, that can deal with flooding for rice crops, that can deal with drought resistance," King told The Times today.

King wonders why recent productivity revolutions in agriculture, which have been such a success in Asia and India, have not been implemented in Africa on the same scale. He concludes that the blame lies not with Africans, but with Western "do-gooders" who prefer Africans to remain picturesque and dirt poor.

An example he cites is the attempts of eco-campaigners Friends of the Earth to keep drought-resistant crops out of Africa.

He has a point.

"Where once there were ambitions for people in the third world to enjoy Western standards of living, now the voice of the voiceless instead celebrates the primitive lifestyles that the world's poorest people suffer," wrote Ben Pile and Stuart Blackman recently in a scathing critique of the charity Oxfam, called Backwards to the future.

Indeed, and the same middle-class superstitions that endeavour to keep Wi-Fi out of schools are used to justify keeping biotechnology out of Africa.

For example, Friends of the Earth continues to argue that modern seed technologies should not be used to make agriculture easier and more productive for poor farmers - even when this causes more ecological damage than the new technology. FoE's most recent campaign against biotech means that subsistence farmers must continue to use seeds that require more fertiliser than GM varieties, and which need environmentally-destructive tilling.

Whatever it is that motivates these self-styled "Greens", it isn't a concern for the environment. Nor, despite claims to the contrary, is there any valid concern of "over-population". The UN estimates global population growth to peak in the 2040s at 7.87bn, then decline, assuming modest development is permitted to continue. Not only does economic development mean fewer people, but it means less suffering: those fewer people are much happier.

Clearly, we can easily generate enough food to feed everyone on the planet and we have the means to ensure there's less human suffering. Some people want that to happen - and some don't. You'll find many nursing their Malthusian or Eugenics prejudices under the banner of Greenery in the former camp - but it's a refreshing surprise to find King in the latter camp, or at least edging away from the Greens' death cult. ®

*Bootnote: Some kind of Government-funded quango, as far as we can tell.

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