If, as the saying goes, you reap what you sow, then Indian farmers are some savvy sowers. Thanks to new drought-resistant strains of rice, along with more efficient farming techniques, farmers are enjoying larger crop yields, even under adverse weather conditions. The WSJ reports:
Two decades ago, a bad monsoon could cut India’s annual economic growth rate in half. Today, however, new seeds and advances in drip irrigation and other agricultural technologies are helping to cushion farmers and the economy. […]In Haryana, farmer Ishwar Dayal says this year he planted a hybrid basmati rice known as Pusa 1509 that grows faster and needs less water than other types. “Groundwater levels in our village have plunged and monsoon rains have become increasingly unpredictable,” Mr. Dayal said.The new rice, and an earlier drought-resistant variety, Pusa 1121, have drastically improved farmers’ yields and incomes, Mr. Dayal and his neighbors in this grain-bowl northern state say.
It’s never wise to bet against human ingenuity, especially as the pace of technological change continues to accelerate. For consumer electronics, that means more powerful tablets and phones and watches and glasses, while for agriculture, innovation entails something altogether more important: crops with higher yields, resistant to droughts, heat waves, pests, floods, etc. Did that last litany of natural disasters sound familiar? Environmentalists like to trot them out as consequences of human-caused climate change, and yet, bizarrely, those same people have no problem with attacking genetically modified foods as “unnatural,” and therefore not worth our time. Somehow, greens can decry a dystopian future while dismissing out of hand one of the brightest hopes humanity has for adapting to these changes.Green bigotry against GMOs says a lot about the movement in general—quick to diagnose the problem, but loathe to pursue any kind of workable solution. We’re going to need every iota of human ingenuity at our disposal if we’re to meet the challenges of a changing climate in the coming years, and to that end, we need an environmental movement capable of putting aside emotional biases and assessing options dispassionately. Gaia deserves much better advocates than she’s been getting.