Wednesday, December 07, 2011

US Ambassador To Nepal On Facebook

It started here. That took me to here. And to here.

This is the US ambassador to Nepal using Facebook to step right into a controversy. If all US ambassadors did this, Wikileaks might go irrelevant, like I said in a comment. By now I have left four comments. My latest comment is as follows.
(1) Biotechnology is like software, like nanotechnology, like green/clean energy. A country that wishes to go into the future can not be saying no to any of those. That is not me saying a big yes to Monsanto. Monsanto is just one company, although a big, influential one, and some might say a little notorious.

(2) Hybrid seeds are not news. Nepal has been using hybrid seeds for a long time now. But I must admit the kind of hybrids Monsanto seems to have in mind are leaps and bounds beyond what Nepal has been using so far.

(3) A new medicine sometimes is not what it was thought to be. But that is no argument against medical progress. Hybrid seeds can have and have had drastic eco consequences. That is an argument for a much more rigorous regimen to how the new hybrids get approved for the market in the first place.

(4) Biotech is going to play a key role in upping Nepal's agricultural production by a factor of something like 10, something dramatic. Again, that is not a vote for Monsanto. That is my positive vibe for biotech as an emerging field in applied science.

(5) Monsanto does seem to have some notoriety. A lot of it seems to come from its non biotech moves, in how it lobbies governments, how it influences decision making, how it enters countries. The solution to that is to have a full fledged intelligent discussion. It is for the Nepali people to decide if Monsanto is to be allowed. But at this point my stand is that a pilot project will not hurt. With a pilot project the Nepali people will have something concrete to talk about and debate.

(6) In this day and age of internet and globalization that pilot project local to Nepal can be coupled with global experiences with Monsanto. There's some good and some bad out there. Software programs have bugs. The early ones had even more of them. Windows crashed a lot in the early years. Some of what we blame Monsanto for is the fact that humanity is in its early stages of using biotechnology. And so there are "bugs." The effort has to be to fix the bugs. For that a corporation like Monsanto, a government like that in Nepal, and collectively a people all have to work hand in hand. I think cooperation is possible, and that starts with an open dialogue like this one.

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