As millions of people in Zambia and Zimbabwe faced famine in 2002, their governments rejected corn donated by the United Nations, calling it "poison" because it contained some genetically modified kernels. Similar scorn sounded this past June outside a Biotechnology Industry Organization meeting in San Francisco. There protesters blockaded the street, shouting predictions that GM crops would devastate human health, the environment and the welfare of small farmers.
Yet only a month earlier the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)--traditionally a champion of the small farmer--had concluded that the ongoing "war of rhetoric" about agricultural biotechnology may pose a greater threat than the technology itself does. One of the worst things about GM crops, the FAO argued, is that too few farmers are planting them.
This article was originally published with the title The Green Gene Revolution.