Valery Matytsin/TASS/Getty Images

Het recht op landbouwtechnologie

STANFORD – In jaren zestig, toen bioloog Paul Ehrlich massale hongersnood voorspelde door snelle bevolkingsgroei, was kweker Norman Borlaug nieuwe gewassen en benaderingen van landbouw aan het ontwikkelen die de kern van de Groene Revolutie zouden gaan vormen. Er wordt wel gedacht dat deze verbeteringen samen met andere innovaties in de landbouwtechnologie meer dan een miljard doden door hongersnood voorkomen hebben en de voeding van de miljarden meer die nu in leven zijn verbeterd hebben. Toch lijken sommigen gretig om deze vooruitgang terug te draaien.

Naast het redden van levens heeft de Groene Revolutie het milieu gered van een gigantische kaalslag. Volgens een studie van Stanford University heeft de moderne landbouwtechnologie de broeikasgasuitstoot sinds 1961 aanzienlijk verminderd, zelfs terwijl deze tot grotere netto-oogstopbrengsten leidde. Ook voorkwam deze dat het equivalent van drie Amazone-wouden – ofwel het dubbele oppervlak van de 48 aangrenzende Amerikaanse staten – gekapt en omgeploegd werd voor landbouwgrond. Genetisch gemodificeerde gewassen op hun beurt hebben het gebruik van schadelijke pesticiden sinds 1996 cumulatief met 581 miljoen kilo teruggebracht, ofwel 18,5 procent.

Verrassend genoeg veroordelen veel milieuactivisten deze ontwikkelingen eerder dan dat ze ze omhelzen en propageren in plaats daarvan een terugkeer naar inefficiënte benaderingen met weinig opbrengst. Onderdeel van de zogeheten agro-ecologie die ze uitdragen is een primitieve ‘boerenlandbouw,’ die door het verminderen van de rendementen en de veerkracht van gewassen de voedselveiligheid ondermijnt, en leidt tot grotere hongersnoden en ondervoeding.

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