TCS Daily


Elite Hypocrisy

By James K. Glassman - February 10, 2003 12:00 AM

From their high moral perch, European journalists, artists and intellectuals are hurling thunderbolts of invective against the Untied States. After all, the U.S. is the country that opposed the Kyoto Protocol and the International Criminal Court, that attacked the sovereign state of Afghanistan and is about to invade Iraq.

The Financial Times recently noted a nearly solid front of anti-Americanism among Europe's intellectual elite. It cited, for example, the comments of the popular German actor and playwright Franz Xaver Kroetz in the weekly magazine Stern just two months after the Sept. 11 attacks, as the U.S. was about to move against the Taliban:

"A country [the U.S.] that takes an entire Volk hostage to serve its own interest is guilty of crimes against humanity and is itself a war criminal. To heap suffering on the Afghan Volk is just such a crime. The USA has committed many political crimes over the past several years. I thank God I am not American."

Timothy Garton Ash, writing in the New York Review of Books, points out that the harsh criticism of the U.S. from Europe is "civilizational, not personal." Clearly, Old Europe still believes its civilization is ethically and culturally, if not economically, far superior to that of the United States. As John Le Carre, the English novelist and essayist, recently wrote, with typical Euro condescension, While Americans are "thoroughly decent and humane," they are "kept in a state of ignorance and fear" by "Bush and his junta."

Hey, Euro-intellects, wake up and smell the espresso.

While you are busy flogging the United States, your own lovely leaders are actually killing people with policies based on superstition and greed. Not only have you not protested those policies, many of you have been encouraging them.

I am referring to what is happening in Africa. It is shameful beyond belief. Reuters recently reported from Lusaka:

"Hundreds of hungry villagers in southern Zambia broke into a warehouse and looted genetically modified (GM) maize [i.e., corn] their government has banned relief agencies from distributing to ease a food shortage, police said on Wednesday."

Some 14.4 million people in six southern African countries are facing critical food shortages, and, as usual, the evil United States is acting as the largest donor of grain to save their lives (just as, by the way, the U.S. has been a huge food donor to North Korea).

The U.S. Agency for International Development has delivered or pledged 500,000 metric tons of food for southern Africa, plus hundreds of thousands of tons more for Ethiopia, Eritrea and Angola.

But throughout Africa - and in Zambia especially - governments have resisted GM grains, largely because of opposition from European Green groups. As a result, "GM relief foodstuff, mainly maize, has been stuck in storage sheds around the country because their repercussions, after consumption, on human life were not known."

So, as this food - all perfectly safe (U.S. citizens and hundreds of millions of other people around the world have been eating GM corn since the mid-1990s with no adverse consequences) - sits in warehouses, Zambians starve. Or loot.

But it is not just the persuasive power of Green fanatics that is killing Africans, it is the policy of European governments themselves. The European Union several years ago declared a moratorium on the import of GM foods. In part, European leaders feared that biotechnology was dangerous, but, more important, GM agriculture presents an economic threat to European farmers. Africans, especially, can use GM methods to grow food on small plots, and their exports could efficiently compete in Europe.

But the moratorium does not merely affect possible exports. African countries are reluctant to allow their farmers to plant GM crops for domestic use since it may be hard to separate GM from non-GM crops for export if the EU retains its moratorium. They also worry that if they persist in growing GM foods, Europe will cut off development aid.

As a result, reported the Bureau of National Affairs last week, "Biotechnology scientists from Africa," meeting in Brussels, "insisted Jan. 29 that the European Union's moratorium on genetically modified organisms was hindering efforts to use a technology they said was crucial to boost food production and break the cycle of malnutrition and starvation on the African continent."

The African scientists "also accused European environmental and development aid groups of spreading misinformation about genetically modified organisms that they said were making African governments to shy away from the technology."

The Africans urged the U.S. to file a trade complaint against the EU over the GM ban - a complaint that is likely to succeed if the U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick, decides to go ahead - as he should.

Zoellick has said that some EU member states were threatening to cut off development aid if the African countries accept GM food aid from the United States, and, according to the BNA news report from the three-day conference in Belgium, African scientists said that "non-governmental organizations, including Oxfam and Save the Children, were advising [African] governments that their aid programs could cease if GMO technology was used or food aid accepted."

James Ochanda, a scientist with the University of Nairobi, was quoted by BNA as saying:

"In Europe biotechnology seems to be more about ideology than about rational choice. For us, biotech is an important tool to fight hunger and malnutrition. European environmental groups opposed to biotechnology in developing countries such as in Africa argue that there is plenty of food to go around in the world, and it is only a matter of better distribution. This is unacceptable. This creates dependence. We want to break away from dependence."

As another African scientist, Lucas Sese of Kenya, put it, "EU scientists will be the first to tell you that the moratorium is not based on science."

No, instead it is based on retrograde ideology and the dumb avarice of Europe's cartelized farmers and their political supporters, including the same holier-than-thou intellectuals who railed against the U.S. overthrow of a Taliban regime that (among other things) kept women in shame and subjugation.

Of course, not all Europeans are as sophisticated and smart as Herr Kroetz, the German playwright who thanks God he is not an American. After all, 11 prime ministers and presidents, from Britain, Spain, Italy, Poland and other European countries have declared their support for U.S. policy toward Iraq and even thanked America for its sacrifices to save Europe during World War II.

But Europe's best and brightest brains are attracting attention and influencing policy. As they bleat and dither, Africa, the continent of their nations' failed colonial designs, starves.
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