the age of the pirate is everlasting

Welcome to neverland! This is the place where you can never grow up. Float away with Peter Pan and the rights of indigenous people. Live the rest of your days under the fantastical sun and steal the knowledge and resources of people who are almost forced to give them up for need of capital to survive. Bio-piracy has been prevalent since the first conquests of Africa. We still have much to learn from Africa. There is a expansive bio-resource wealth left untapped. And as many begin calling for a Green Revoultion for Africa, the accusations of bio-piracy and the breaking of intellectual property rights multiplies.

According to an article the green revolution is characterised by:

“The green revolution of the 1970s promoted increased yields, based on a model of industrial agriculture defined as a monoculture of one or two crops, which requires massive amounts of both fertilizer and pesticide as well as the purchase of seed. Although this approach to food production might feed more people in the short term, it also quickly destroys the earth through extensive soil degradation and water pollution from pesticides and fertilizers. It ruined small-scale farmers in Asia and Latin America, who could not afford to purchase the fertilizers, pesticides, and water necessary for the hybrid seed or apply these inputs in the exact proportions and at the exact times. To pay their debts, the farmers had to sell their land.”

At the end of Kofi Annan’s term he took a position to head the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Surprisingly this is contrary to all that he had researched and learned about the Green Revolution for Africa. In 2002, he had called together a group of experts from Brazil, China, South Africa, Mexico, and others to figure out if a ‘green revolution’ could help Africa. The group of experts came back and said that a green revolution for Africa, “would not provide food security because of the diverse types of farming systems across the continent. There is ‘no single magic technological bullet…for radically improving African agriculture, the expert panel reported in its strategic recommendations. ‘African agriculture is more likely to experience numerous ‘rainbow evolutions’ that differ in nature and extent among the many systems, rather than one Green Revolution as in Asia.’ Annan’s reasoning is still unknown, but what can be inferred is that he is looking to keep money in the bank. How can you sell out to an entire continent?

There are so many examples of crops that have been destroyed by ideals of the green revolution. From sorghum, wheat and wild rice. One food product that is trapped in politics is amaranth. The sacred plant of the aztecs, destroyed by Cortez for its symbolism and extreme nutritional value. The seeds grow everywhere, the grain is the most nutritious, even the plants leaves are more nutritious than spinach. Mildly off topic, but hails back to the beginning of bio-piracy.

“Sorghum is one example of a crop lost to markets in the global North but not to Africa. On the continent, it is planted in more hectares than all other food crops combined. As nutritious as maize for carbohydrates, vitamin B6, and food energy, sorghum is more nutritious in protein, ash, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, phosphorus, isoleucine, and leucine. One of the most versatile foods in the world, sorghum can be boiled like rice, cracked like oats for porridge, baked like wheat into flatbreads, popped like popcorn for snacks, or brewed for nutritious beer.”

Piracy lives on, it is not just a great theme for the movies. Pirates sail our seas, but this time they come with organizations, false legitimacy, and more money than most pirates. The green revolution is growing as well, but support is waning in Africa. African countries are denying genetically modified (GM) foods and pushing to keep their bio-diversity away from bio-piracy.

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3 Comments

  1. I have always firmly believed that Africa has the potential to be the food basket for the world. One time Zimbabwe was that for most of Africa, If the countries of Africa could become genuinly united and worked towards a common goal their potential is unlimited,maybe I am biased because I live here,but get rid of the partisan rhetoric and it can happen.

  2. I agree stanaxe, I can foresee Africa becoming a bread basket for the world. Much needs to happen before that, but this could be the niche in the global economy that African countries can fill.Nick, I am not sure how much MSU or its academics are involved in the propogation of the Green Revolution. The team of researchers was from all over the world, none from MSU that I know.

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