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March 5, 2010

GMOs as Big Ag's Version of "Financial Innovation"

Slot machine in droughty field(Photoillustration by Grist)Financial blogger Felix Salmon has an essay in Foreign Policy called "How Locavores Can Save the World" -- expanded, by the way, from a wonderful blog post he wrote after attending a panel discussion on world hunger at the Davos World Economic Forum in the company of Blue Hill Farm's Dan Barber. Salmon usually focuses on issues involving economic crises, monetary policy, complex derivatives, macro-economics and governmental oversight of the financial markets, but here he's talking monocultures, sustainable agriculture, and transgenic seeds. Tom Philpott has in the past opined on the similarities between financial and food crises, so I suppose this turn of events is not too surprising.

But the bit I found most striking was how Salmon characterized Big Ag's claim that genetically modified organisms are an "answer" to the problem of world hunger:

[It] is the agricultural equivalent of creating triple-A-rated mortgage bonds, fabricated precisely to prevent the problem of credit risk. It doesn't make the problem go away: It just makes the problem rarer and much more dangerous when it does occur because no one is -- or even can be -- prepared for such a high-impact, low-probability event.

Well, hey. That's a new one. GMOs as CDOs...

READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON GRIST.ORG

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