By Gene Hall

World Hunger

One Saturday evening a few weeks ago, my Texas Aggies were losing badly on TV and I turned to some web surfing to get my mind off it.  I stumbled across the Wikipedia site on Luddites.  This was a group that began in the early 19th Century and named for an early leader.  They were against anything that remotely smacked of technological progress.  As the Industrial Revolution took hold, they sometimes attacked factories and destroyed manufacturing equipment.

The followers of Luddism were afraid of change.  They were worried about losing jobs and they were hostile to the free market.  As I gathered these nuggets of information, I realized that Luddism is alive and well in the 21st Century.  The most extreme of modern Luddites was Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber.  Other notable Luddites include the extreme environmental and animal rights groups that burn subdivisions and laboratories. 

But Luddism has a less extreme, though just as destructive, face.  This includes the people who just stop their collective feet and shout, “No!” to every agricultural advance that science can produce.

I keep thinking about those more than 9 billion people that will inhabit Planet Earth just four decades from right now.  How will we feed them?  The answer is we can’t, if our farmers and ranchers are forced to use the production tools of the 19th Century. 

Modern America has become a nation where most people enjoy a comfortable life.  That will change if acquiring food becomes our top priority, as it was with our great-great grandparents.  Modern agriculture uses efficiencies of scale to feed more people at a lower cost.  It also uses chemical and genetic technological advances to grow food that is less troubled by insects and less dependant on ample water.

There are always those that oppose progress, but this time the consequences are too terrible to contemplate.  If we don’t accelerate our food production, we could face starvation on a global scale. 

Today, in a land of plenty, we don’t worry much about food, other than to make emotional and ill informed decisions that make growing it much harder.  We are going to need much more food than we are able to grow even today.  What will happen if the Luddite agenda is adopted?  Ask the Luddites.  They seem to have all the answers.

 

Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
Follow Gene on Twitter and Facebook.

5 Responses to “Are food extremists the New Luddites?”

  1. Thanks,very good!Become a nation where most people enjoy a comfortable life. That will change if acquiring food becomes our top priority, as it was with our great-great grandparents. Modern agriculture uses efficiencies of scale to feed more people at a lower cost. It also uses chemical and genetic technological advances to grow food that is less troubled by insects and less

  2. I have not heard of the term Luddites before but I totally disagree with you on the chemicals and genetic ‘technologies’ to advance food production. There is too little knowledge about how man made changes to food affect health. We are using the general public as human guinea pigs. The standards to pass what is deemed ‘safe’ are too lax. We will not know how this will truly affect human health for many decades to come. Just look at asbestos.

    Give me real, natural, organic food any day.

  3. Lax? Are you kidding? Nothing in the world is more heavil regulated than the US food supply. Lack of knowledge? You can’t be serious. Computer drives and file cabinets are bulging withe the data – not one shred of it indicating a problem with genetic modification of food. After all, we’ve been doing it since the ancient Egyptians produced the first hybrid grains. Genetic modification today means plants with natural pest protection, lessening the need for chemicals. It also means drought tolerant varieties and high yields. In parts of the world with little water, no resources for chemicals and lots of hungry people, that’s pretty important. Call it "hope for very hungry people." Organic food is fine for those with the desire to eat it and the resources to purchase it. Many do not have that luxury. Think of the 9 billion people in the world by the year 2050. We should be ramping up to produce all the food we can – not playing these silly games of trivial pursuit.

  4. I totally disagree with you on the chemicals and genetic ‘technologies’ to advance food production. There is too little knowledge about how man made changes to food affect health.

  5. As noted in my previous post, there is a great wealth of knowledge about the genetic modification of food – expansive knowledge – voluninous knowledge. For the Luddites, however, it will always be – "We don’t know enough." They would not accept the truth engraved in fire on stone tablets, right from the hand of God.

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