NY Times Letter to the Editor: When Food Is Genetically Modified

In the New York Times Opinion Pages

To the Editor:

Mark Lynas’s profile of one farmer in Bangladesh does not represent the facts on the ground about genetically engineered eggplant there. The trials of the new variety of eggplant have actually had very poor results: Genetic engineering did not protect plants from most pests and have led to crop loss and debt for farmers.

On the other hand, across Bangladesh and the broader region, farmers who are using agroecological principles, working with farmer-to-farmer networks like Navdanya in India, are achieving high yields with little to no use of chemical pesticides.

In my own reporting on food and agricultural issues, I’ve met farmers in Bangladesh, India, Brazil, Poland, Kenya, Mali and other countries around the world who are reporting the powerful results of ecological farming, using conventional breeding and traditional seed saving and sharing. Farmers are seeing their yields go up, while learning a way of farming that doesn’t lock them into dependency on seed and fertilizer companies half a world away or expose them to harmful chemicals in the fields.

Mr. Lynas’s Bangladesh visit was organized by the new Cornell Alliance for Science, funded by a $5.6 million grant from the Gates Foundation, that is promoting biotechnology, not dispassionately reviewing the science.


Berkeley, Calif.

The writer is a founding principal of the Small Planet Institute.

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