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“Food is the new oil; land is the new gold”

October 2, 2012

So says Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute and author of  “Full Planet, Empty Plates:  The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity.”   As Brown’s book hits market, we see evidence of agricultural landgrabbing across the Global South – in Africa, in Myanmar, and in Brazil.  There is push back against this trend in South America, where Argentina and Uruguay have passed laws putting limits on foreign ownership of farmland, and in Brazil, where concern is growing.

As with all things, I believe that technology will continue to resolve food shortages so long as the proper regulatory environment is in place.  The original Green Revolution fostered by Norman Borlaug accomplished something similar a few decades ago.  Borlaug’s work probably saved more lives than any one individual in history.  Sadly, today his work is often castigated as “food imperialism” while contemporary Greens often see Borlaug as an emblem of failure.

Resource nationalism and neo-Luddism are problematic enough on their own.  Combined together in the contemporary Food/Fear nexus which at once decries genetic modification and agricultural investment while warning of an impending food system collapse, and it is potentially disastrous.

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