Saturday, October 01, 2005

UN starving the developing world

Henry I. Miller is in Japan as a member of the US delegation to a UN task force on biotechnology-derived foods. The group is a creature of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which sets food standards on behalf of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO).

The very scope of this exercise -- which has gone on for five years and shows no signs of abating -- makes no sense.

There is a broad scientific consensus that the precision of gene-splicing makes the accidental introduction of toxins or anti-nutrients into new foods far less likely. (Note that no food modified by traditional techniques -- that is to say, virtually the entire diet of Europeans and Americans -- could (or should) meet the existing Codex standards for biotech foods.)

Fifth, many who attended this meeting appear to be completely ignorant of the appropriate context of new and conventional biotechnology, unaware that with the exception of fish and wild game, berries and mushrooms, virtually all of the foods in our diet are derived from organisms that have been genetically improved in some fashion.

United Nations member states – especially African and Caribbean- instead of pushing for their favorite candidates to head the UN or one of its agencies (usually an incompetent but politically well connected non-entity) in the hope of getting a few crumbs from his table, should campaign for qualified persons that can really help their countries.

FAO calls on one hand for greater allocation of resources to agriculture, and then makes those resources less cost-effective by gratuitous over-regulation of the new biotechnology.

What really worries me though, is that we are entrusting our lives to these morons who are supposed to coordinate efforts to prevent and combat a possible avian flu epidemic.

U.S. government delegates to international bodies such as Codex, Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization, United Nations Environment Program and UNESCO should be directed to defend rational, science-based policies, and to work to dismantle politically motivated, unscientific restrictions.

(see also my post “EU starving the developing world”)

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