Putting the Greens in charge of food policy is like putting astrologers in charge of space exploration. What they lack in reason they make up for in certainty. One the one hand we have delegates to the Global Irish Economic Forum calling for the application of the Smart Economy strategy to the food industry (see page 31 of Annex IV Report of Economic Working Group Discussions). About the most original thing to come out of the event I reckon. Then on the other hand we have Fianna Fail and the Greens committing to making Ireland a GM-free zone as a core goal in agriculture policy. More like a Stupid Economy strategy don't you think?
This conundrum struck me as a I listened to a stunning presentation by the venerable Stewart Brand at the Long Now Seminar series. He has just written a book entitled Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto. Stewart is a lifelong environmentalist (his biography is enough to induce a fit of I'm not worthy genuflection, and some serious envy to boot ;-) But he has come to have an ecopragmatist view of the challenges we now face as a species, hence his call for:
- Nuclear power
- GMO foods
- Geo-engineering to postpone/solve global warming
Anathema, of course, to our Narnia-dwelling overlords. But Stewart and others like him are taking a long-term view (hence the delightful way in which they use five-digit years, e.g.: 02009, to subtly reframe our perspective of time and the future). They recognise the long term nature of the challenges we face (including rapid urbanisation as illustrated in the chart from The Global Food Equation by DB Research). And they recognise the opportunities that this will create.
Fianna Fail and the Green Party, and through them the government, are now committed to an anti-scientific future. We deserve better and we can do better. If we can just lose the anti-scientific posturing on food and agricultural policy then Ireland could become a very wealthy country indeed through the development and licencing of food production IP and technologies. And we can go further, beyond value-added innovation to the 'thick value' of Awesomeness.
Who would you rather have in mission control as you fly to the moon: the astrologer or the rocket scientist?