Eco-terrorism: Green Power, Black Death, by Paul Driessen. Merril Press, P.O. Box 1682, Belleville, WA 98009 $15.00.
Starved for Science: How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa, by Robert Paarlberg,Harvard University Press.
I think Paul Driessen must be an idealist because he seems to expect people to do what they claim they are doing, that is, to live up to their proclaimed ideals. Unfortunately for his peace of mind, he has chosen to examine the international actions of the Green movement, and there, amid much gaseous verbiage, he has discovered Green pressure groups laboring mightily, under the disguise of "corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and the precautionary principle" to prevent development in the poor nations of the world. It is a shocking story, made all the more appalling by the way Mr. Driessen frames it in the pompous phraseology of high-minded environmental protection. He shows how the eco-imperialists try to prevent use of any energy sources other than solar or wind, how they use pseudo-science to prevent the use of genetically modified seed, or even the importation of grain produced by genetically modified plants. Food for the starving? Nosiree. And then there's the ban on DDT and the consequent death of millions from malaria. And so it goes, as Greens put pressure on U.S. corporations to make their policies congruent with Green objectives, which means continuing poverty in the poor countries of Africa, because Greens don't want them to develop as we did, which they regard with horror. This book is an excellent account of how zealous Green ideologues have created a number of supposedly high-minded institutions to exert power over the national and international actions of much of the corporate world. An eye-opener for conservatives.
Mr. Paarlberg's book, concerned with the same issues as Mr. Driessen's book, is much more closely focused on African rural poverty, and he is very specific about the agencies (like the World Bank) and policies involved in this depressing story. If you want to learn the exact dimensions of the problem, this book is invaluable.
Unfortunately, the author's understanding of why rich countries push such disastrous policies on poor countries is wholly inadequate and confusing. His reasoning: Rachel Carson was right - we were destroying the environment, and thanks to Silent Spring, Americans were alerted to the danger and the Green movement flourished. Among the results were growing skepticism about scientific research, especially in agriculture, and an aversion to the modern farming that makes our abundant and inexpensive food possible. Mr. Paarlberg, perhaps because he grew up in a rural community among relatives who were farmers, is more than ordinarily sensitive to the attitudes and ideas surrounding farming, so he is able to articulate the complex feelings involved when an urbanized public (especially one that has recently moved to the country) contemplates modern farming. These people are believers in the Beautiful Simple Country Life. They are convinced, for instance, that locally produced food, preferably "organic," is better than the products of sophisticated modern agriculture. Paarlberg's clinching argument is that our agriculture is so productive that we do not need genetically modified crops, which is why we oppose them and why we supposedly oppose their use in Africa.
No close observer of the countryside over the last 50 years, no close observer of what I call the Country Fakes, those urbanites who began moving to the countryside in the 1960s, would fault Mr. Paarlberg's observations, but his conclusions, as well as his premises, are mistaken. Rachel Carson was wrong, and the Green movement spawned in her name, is a disaster. Mr. Driessen is right to say that Green eco-imperialists want to withhold modern agricultural development from Africa because they believe such development is bad (if not evil), and they do not want Africa to develop as we did. They are quite content with the impoverishment of Africa (which they see as noble and enriching), and they want to impoverish us, too. This book is an excellent survey of what's going on (or not going on) in Africa; to understand why, read Paul Driessen's book.