Starved for Review

Readers of Nature got the chance of hitting a very nice review of Robert Paarlberg‘s Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is Being Kept Out of Africa, by Ian Scoones and Dominic Grover (see also here). A little excerpt:

“The book has quickly become influential. Paarlberg was asked to speak about hunger alleviation in front of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The book’s arguments were repeated in a major policy speech by Nina Fedoroff, science and technology adviser both to the US Secretary of State and to the administrator of the US Agency for Inter national Development (USAID). Economist Paul Collier of the University of Oxford, UK, praised it in an article in the journal Foreign Affairs, and British peer Dick Taverne described it in a House of Lords debate as one of the most important books he had read in years. But Paarlberg’s account is one-sided. Just as the heated debate about GM crops had settled around a position that recognizes they can be useful in some circumstances yet are not a panacea, this book unhelpfully polarizes the matter once more. […] A dogmatic and unscientific stance on GM crops — whether for or against — helps no one, least of all African farmers. A more evidence-based approach than Paarlberg’s is needed.” (in Ian Scoones and Dominic Grover,  “Africa’s biotechnology battle”, Nature, Vol. 460, pp. 797-798, August 13 2009, full pre-print version available here)

For information: Nina Fedoroff is the famous advocate of something called “science diplomacy”, a technique basically consisting in saying that scientists and politicians critical against Monsanto are a bunch of idiots and in throwing at them slideshows with random pictures of starving kids (preferably African) and of big, shiny GM maize crops.


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