Life-saving crops

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I agree with Carolyn Taylor (Letters, 27 March) that population control is desirable. I sat for 25 years on the board of the School of the Man-made Future of the University of Edinburgh at which population was the constant problem raised. We got no further than careers for women and contraception. Perhaps she can suggest some novel ideas.

But if populations are not curtailed other serious problems emerge. Her statement about GM crops is incorrect. GM Bt cotton has an inbuilt insecticide and has been taken up with alacrity by small farmers throughout India and China.

The beneficial results on farmer income, health and local wildlife have all been documented by independent, unbiased sources of information, the clearest indicator being its popularity.

The crop monocultures that Ms Taylor affects to despise are the basis of current farming, whose stability and efficiency 
ensure that most of us don’t have to think where our next meal comes from. Efficient farming is the primary basis for a wealthy, relatively healthy and increasingly long-lived society.

When organic farming was at its height in the 19th century, it was found necessary to reject a sizeable minority of recruits for the Boer War because of gross underweight.

This week was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Norman Borlaug, who, in introducing
the high-yielding crops of the Green Revolution, saved millions of people from starvation and premature death. That is what technology and knowledge can achieve.

(Prof) Tony Trewavas FRS FRSE

Scientific Alliance 
Scotland

North St David Street

Edinburgh

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