Have you ever thought about how lucky you are?
Site traffic tells me that most of you are from very tech-savvy nations. You probably don’t worry about catching deadly diseases or whether you’ll have a roof over your head tonight or where your next meal is coming from. We all have our struggles, but you probably tell people you can’t complain when asked how you’re doing. Some people, not you of course, are so privileged that they even pretend to have ailments like Celiac disease, or they go on starvation diets. How crazy is it that we can afford to choose to suffer?
You’re probably concerned about the well-being of those less fortunate than yourselves. Maybe you can’t afford to help as much as you’d like or even at all, and that’s okay, but you really wish you could do more. If life was different, you’d be out there like Brangelina saving all the hungry babies, delivering vaccines, building homes and schools. I’m sure of it.
I always assume the best in people. (Skeptic isn’t synonymous with cynic.) It’s only when someone shows me that I’m in error, that I’ll develop a less than favorable view of them. Take anti-GMO activists for an example. I believe that a lot of them believe most of what they say. There’s nothing to back up that belief other than a gut feeling, but there’s nothing out there that can show me I’m wrong either. Well, nothing I’m aware of. I’m not omniscient or anything. But, and there’s always a but, I also believe that they will do and say whatever it takes to protect their belief that biotechnology is dangerous/evil/whatever. In other words, I assume they’re decent people that are completely overtaken by an ideology ̶ religious zealots. This dogmatism makes me believe the worst can happen, but I don’t make any personal judgments until there’s something to be judged. This brings me to my point.
GMO Free USA. I stopped assuming the best about this group a long, long time ago. I’ve discussed how they’re a front group for the Maharishi cult, and that brings the religious analogy out of the land of metaphors and into actuality, but I digress. Religious devotion to their cause leads them to lie and spread fear and call for the destruction of crops/food/political careers. They’re no different from creationists. In fact, I think they may be worse because of this:
You’re probably groaning right now. “Another country duped by the crunchies. Oh well.” I understand the sentiment. Maybe if it was Germany or France or something, I wouldn’t give this a passing thought outside of pity for the critical thinkers over there being forced to participate in organic culture, but this isn’t Germany or France. This is the Gambia.
The Gambia is a tiny little country in western Africa that sits almost completely within the borders of Senegal. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s very easy to miss it on a map.
Not only is the Gambia small, it’s extremely poor. According to the World Food Programme, the Gambia “remains one of the least developed, low-income and food-deficit countries in the world, ranked 165 of 186 on the 2012 UNDP Human Development Index.” More than half of Gambians live on $2 a day and the CIA’s world factbook ranks the country 195 of 228 in per capita GDP. It’s $2000 if you’re curious. To add to the problem of poverty, drought has led to an agricultural crisis. Nearly half the country is hungry and reliant on outside relief to feed them, but that’s still not enough. By the way, these are the facts before considering the damage of the recent ebola epidemic that’s decimating west Africa. Yeah, that’s still going on. Strange how it’s been forgotten.
Amid all this suffering is a man GMO Free USA felt worthy of praise, President Yahya Jammeh. By any metric, Jammeh is a dictator. He came to power through a coup in 1996 and has won every election since then. While his people starve, he lives in the customary lavishness expected by tyrants. It seems human rights aren’t a concern of his at all. Journalists and opposition have disappeared and been executed by his regime, and homosexuality is a crime punishable by a life sentence.
Jammeh is also a fan of woo. He claims to have cured AIDS with an herbal remedy. Infertility and diabetes are also on the list of ailments he claims to cure along with demonic possession. Yes, he’s an exorcist too. His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jammeh also started a literal witch hunt that led to at least six “witches” dying after being forced to drink a poisonous concoction.
Yet GMO Free USA would have us believe that this is a man to be praised all because he’s decided to deny his people of a food source. And for what? His propensity for herbalism and magic tells us it’s not because of any scientific reasoning. I know that’s a fallacious argument, but come on. He’s not reading any research papers, and we all know it. This is pure speculation, but I’d put money on someone from the Maharishi Institute being behind Jammeh’s decision.
This brings me back to privilege. We live in a culture where we can decide we don’t want specific foods in our diets. Some of us don’t eat meat. Others choose to only eat foods grown without pesticides. Some choose to eat organic. People in the Gambia aren’t afforded such luxury, so why do those who have want to deprive others who have not? Have they become bored with just creating problems for themselves that they have to exacerbate things for others? Or are they just plain ignorant of everything that happens outside of their little bubbles? For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would think it’s a good thing that life is being made harder on those who’ve already gotten a raw deal.
This new religion of organic only agriculture is dangerous. They’ve gone from denying sight to children in East Asia to flat out denying food to starving families in West Africa. It’s disturbing, and we need to put an end to the nonsense.