Michael Pollan and Hugh Grant (president and CEO of Monsanto, not the floppy-haired British actor) on the same panel? Bring it. In this 36-minute video, taken on Sept. 17, 2008, Pollan, Grant, and Sonal Shah, a development expert at Google.org, talk about the sustainability of food production.
Held on the Google campus, the panel was moderated by Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google.org, who became friends with Grant after the two visited the Doomsday Seed Vault in Norway.
Monsanto: Double yields in 20 years
Grant, who presents Monsanto as a charitable outfit for the better good, is all about the numbers, insisting that the way to solve the world's food problems is to double yields over the next two decades, while reducing water and fertilizer usage. His solution is for us to bulldoze our way out of a potential food-shortage quagmire by planting genetically modified seed. Of course.
Pollan: Create a better food-distribution system
"Yield of what?" Pollan shoots back, noting that Monsanto's history has been growing crops, such as corn and soy, for raw materials, not for human consumption. He also says that GMO crops are not exactly renowned for their high yields and that one of the ways to ensuring food security is to allow farmers to save seed, something Monsanto takes a dim view of.
Another wrinkle in Monsanto's yield-doubling utopia is the fact that producing enough food and getting them into the hands of people are two separate problems, he says. Despite bumper agricultural yields in the United States, for instance, there remain some 35 million Americans Pollan categorizes as "food insecure".
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