The Center for Global Food Issues and the reports of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology say even going vegetarian wouldn’t save enough land from the plow. More research must be brought to the farms in the coming decades to avoid wildlife disaster. The saving grace to date is that we’ve farmed the best land, which had large numbers of a few species; expanding onto the poor soils will threaten huge numbers of species.
Ironically, another speaker at the World Food Prize Symposium—economist Jeffrey Sachs who directs the Earth Institute at Columbia University—criticized agriculture as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Sachs, of course, was implying that either the world’s people must somehow sharply cut back on food and manufacturing, or cut human numbers by some enormous percentage.
It was an ironic reminder that the first Green Revolution lost its momentum after its funding from the Rockefeller Foundation had been drastically cut back. Ethicist Garrett Hardin tells us that Allan Gregg, a Rockefeller vice president, was one of the first to refer to population growth as “a cancer on the earth.” The government agencies that took over support for the international agricultural research network after Rockefeller dropped it have not been able to stand up to the political clout of the green movement.
Once again private philanthropy may provide the final step toward a world of adequately fed people and abundant wild-lands, as it did during the first Green Revolution.
DENNIS T. AVERY is an environmental economist and senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years, Readers may write him at