I'm not much of a botanist, farmer or nutritionist either, but I do know that I've been taught that the key to a healthy diet is a varied diet. Even when we theoretically could eat beans and vitamin supplements.
That it seems easier does not necessarily mean it is actually better.
"I don't think offers of modified crops to especially poor nations/people are usually part of a scheme to control or profit from them."
With examples like everything from marketing breast-milk substitute and cigarettes to child and forced labor, one can get a very bleak view. And the governments in many of those countries are that far bought out. That doesnt mean we need to introduce even more problems.
I agree that some of the scientists are motivated by humanitarian impulses. So were the many of the scientists building the first nuclear bombs. They learned that the way the world works isnt always how we wish it did. Where we want desperately to see good is where we get the worst disappointments. It's not the many good people that corrupt good things, it's the few very powerful and successful sociopaths.
The corporate humanitarian gestures we see are too often post-facto, and two-faced. Media attention gets focused on a certain problem, and they vow to change and act hurt and outraged and spread blame, but as soon as it's gone the problem resumes.
They know there are only so many pages in the newspapers, and they know there are only so many things people can be outraged over in a day, and they know there are only so many days in a year. The media game of whack-an-evil-corp can be maintained perpetually.
"In the very long term, it's in the interest of businesses to see dirt-poor people turn into people with significant income, so they can then sell products to the formerly poor."
Mmm. Indeed. It's in the long-term interest of buisnesses not to poison their customers, and not to ruin the oceans, to move to sustainable, or at least more long-term energy sources, etc. Yet we do keep seeing the combination of quarterly profits and long-term market dominance and monopoly dreams to be the main driving factors for most corporations.
The fact that we market-oriented pro-competition capitalists see the bigger picture doesnt mean the sociopaths do, or that they're even interested in playing the long-term game of more profit for everyone rather than the short-term game of more profit for them now.
"There's no way to lock farmers in to engineered crops in the long term."
"Patents expire after a couple of decades"
That's an assumption. The expiring of patents may be in the interest of humankind and inventors, but large corporations and their owners would be much better served by extending patents and securing long-term cashflow and monopoly power. Patents have not been weakened the last few decades, they have been extended to more areas and less inventive height. And with copyright extensions pushed through, can you see any reason the corporate lobbies will not attempt to push through patent term extensions once they manage their shift to thinking about intellectual property as physical property?
"and if the benefits of newer-model crops don't outweigh the fees and restrictions"
Breastmilk substitute? And the fact that they already are using suboptimal crops? Ignorance and controlled knowledge is a powerful tool for profiteers and it can overcome many efficiency correction attempts in the market.
"farmers will stick with non-engineered or older engineered crops whose patents have expired."
Unless the new engineered crops just happens to be combined with weedkillers and bioengineered fungus or something that just happens to kill the old crops.
I'm not saying that it's all bad.
I'm saying I think the product is morphine, you, I, the scientists and the aid organizations want to be the doctor, while the corporations often tend to be the drugpusher who always gives the first dose free.
The recommended treatment may or may not be the same, but in one case the doctor will try to determine the optimum cure before prescribing the treatment, and in the other, well...
I think that before we let the drugpushers deal our cures we'd better make sure to regulate them into a pharmacy.
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