Who Will Feed the World?

WILL mankind ever start protecting biodiversity instead of destroying it? That, according to biologist John Tuxill, would require “a major policy shift.” He adds, though, that such a shift “is not likely to occur without profound changes in peoples’ awareness of plant biodiversity’s benefits, their desire to change existing practices, and their willingness to try new approaches.”

Many find it hard to believe that such profound changes will come about. And many disagree with Tuxill’s conclusion. There are environmental scientists who feel that the role of biodiversity is still poorly understood and perhaps exaggerated by some of their colleagues. Still, as scientists debate the matter, it seems worthwhile to take note of the cry of alarm coming from some experts in this field. They seem troubled, not only by the loss of biodiversity but also by the greed and shortsightedness they see at work behind such losses. Note these comments from various writers.

“Just a century ago, hundreds of millions of farmers, scattered across the planet, controlled their own seed stocks. . . . Today, much of the seed stock has been brought up, engineered, and patented by global companies and kept in the form of intellectual property. . . . By focusing on short-term market priorities, the biotech industry threatens to destroy the very genetic heirlooms that might one day be worth their weight in gold as a new line of defense against a new resistant disease or super bug.”—Science writer Jeremy Rifkin.

“The media mantra, repeated over and over, is that the real bottom line must be the marketplace, free trade and the global  economy. When the media are dominated by wealth and large corporate interests, this economic faith is like religious dogma and is seldom challenged.”—Geneticist David Suzuki.

In his book Seeds of Change—The Living Treasure, author Kenny Ausubel points out the hypocrisy in developed countries when their “governments and corporations bemoan the imminent global danger of extinction of humanity’s ‘common heritage’ of the gene pool.” He notes that they too are threatening biodiversity by promoting the use of modern farming techniques and monocultures.

Whether the worst fears of environmentalists are justified or not, you may find it difficult to feel confident about the future of this planet. How long can it survive when  mankind seems driven by greed? Desperate for answers, many people hope that science will come to our rescue.

Can Science and Technology Save Us?

The Royal Society of Edinburgh recently expressed concern that scientific advances are now so rapid and sophisticated that scientists run the risk of not fully understanding the implications of these advances. “Science provides tiny, fragmented insights into the natural world,” wrote David Suzuki. “We know next to nothing about the biological makeup of Earth’s life-forms, let alone how they are interconnected and interdependent.”

As Science magazine explained, “neither the risks nor the benefits of GEOs [Genetically Engineered Organisms] are certain or universal. . . . Our capacity to predict ecological impacts of introduced species, including GEOs, is imprecise.”

Many “advances” have truly been a double-edged sword. They do some good, but they also demonstrate mankind’s lack of wisdom and, all too often, their greed. (Jeremiah 10:23) For instance, while the green revolution produced an abundance and fed many mouths, it also contributed to the loss of biodiversity. By promoting the use of pesticides and other expensive farming techniques, the green revolution ultimately benefited “corporate plant breeders and the elite of the Third World at the expense of ordinary people,” wrote Dr. Mae-Wan Ho. This trend is continuing as agriculture based on biotechnology becomes an even bigger and more powerful enterprise and takes us into a future where food security becomes increasingly dependent on science.

These concerns, however, need not fill us with gloom. Really, they just serve to illustrate a larger point. The Bible helps us to see that we should not expect too much from the imperfect humans currently managing this planet and its resources. For now, failures and mismanagement are simply part of the human condition. Hence, Psalm 146:3 advises: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs.” But we can put our complete trust in God. (Proverbs 3:5, 6) He has both the desire and the power to help us.—Isaiah 40:25, 26.

Soon—A Vibrant, Thriving Earth

Before renovating a dilapidated house, you may first need to clear out the rubbish. Similarly, Jehovah God will soon rid the earth of all the wicked, including those who see our planet, its natural assets, and even fellow humans as merely things to exploit in the interests of personal and corporate wealth. (Psalm 37:10, 11; Revelation 11:18) But Jehovah will preserve alive all who love him and strive to do his will.—1 John 2:15-17.

Thereafter, the earth and its countless living things, including obedient humans, will be administered by a government of God’s making—the Messianic Kingdom. (Daniel 7:13, 14; Matthew 6:10) And what abundance the earth will produce under that wise rulership! Says Psalm 72:16: “There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.” Yes, food will no longer be a cause of controversy and anxiety. Instead, it will be safe and plentiful.

So as the present system goes ever deeper into its dark tunnel of despair and uncertainty, those who trust in Jehovah can look forward to a glorious future right here on earth. This hope is contained in the “good news of the kingdom,” which Jehovah’s Witnesses joyfully share with all who want a better and more just world. (Matthew 24:14) Thanks to this sure hope—and God’s fatherly care of his people—we can, even now, “reside in security and be undisturbed from dread of calamity.”—Proverbs 1:33.

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Under God’s Kingdom, food will be safe and plentiful

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FAO Photo/K. Dunn

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