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Gates: GM foods conflict threatens Foundation’s efforts

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Bill Gates, speaking at a World Food Prize forum in Iowa on Thursday, told global food leaders that an “ideological wedge” threatens his global effort to help farmers.

Gates and his wife have focused in recent years on helping alleviate hunger and poverty by giving small farmers the tools to produce more. The Gates Foundation has given more than $1.4 billion to agricultural development, and on Thursday announced nine new grants worth $120 million aimed at raising yields and farming expertise in the developing world.

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Sub-Saharan Africa is the most under-nourished region in the world, with almost 42% surviving on less than $1 per day. A combination of decades-long drought, regional conflict, and a burgeoning population contribute to the world’s worst hunger situation.

The $120 million announced on Thursday is intended to help develop genetically modified crops that are more drought-resistant and productive in marginal conditions. Nitrogen-fixing legume crops, sorghum and millet, and sweet potatoes are all undergoing genetic experimentation sponsored by the Gates Foundation.

Genetically modified(GM) crops have been a topic of intense agricultural debate since their creation. GM crops undergo genetic manipulation in a laboratory, usually for the purpose of increasing crop yield or pest resistance. In many countries in Europe, vendors are legally required to clearly label GM foods; there is skepticism about the science behind genetic manipulation.

Many believe that GM crops will lead to even greater crop homogenization and threaten the stability of the global food supply. Wendell Berry, one of America’s most prominent agricultural researchers, told the Washington Post, “The inevitable aim of industrial agri-investors is the big universal solution… And the kind of agriculture we’re talking about that leads to food security and land conservation is locally adapted agriculture.”

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In his speech on Thursday, Gates rejected what he saw as a false dichotomy between sustainability and productivity, but avoided mentioning genetic modification. “The technology and new approaches that are transforming agriculture in other parts of the world can be applied in new ways, and help Africa flourish too,” Gates said. “This global effort to help small farmers is endangered by an ideological wedge that threatens to split the movement in two. On one side is a technological approach that increases productivity. On the other side is an environmental approach that promotes sustainability. It’s a false choice, and it’s dangerous for the field.”

The World Food Prize honors people who have contributed to ending hunger worldwide. More about the forum and Gates’ speech can be found here.


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Millions around the world joined #ClimateStrike — demanding bold climate action

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Masses of children skipped school Friday to join a global strike against climate change that teen activist Greta Thunberg said was "only the beginning" in the fight against environmental disaster.

Some four million people filled city streets around the world, organizers said, in what was billed as the biggest ever protest against the threat posed to the planet by rising temperatures.

Youngsters and adults alike chanted slogans and waved placards in demonstrations that started in Asia and the Pacific, spread across Africa, Europe and Latin America, before culminating in the United States where Thunberg rallied.

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Trump announces new sanctions on Iran — and deploys US troops to the Middle East

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The United States announced Friday that it was sending military reinforcements to the Gulf region following attacks on Saudi oil facilities that it attributes to Iran, just hours after President Donald Trump ordered new sanctions on Tehran.

Trump said the sanctions were the toughest-ever against another country, but indicated he did not plan a military strike, calling restraint a sign of strength.

The Treasury Department renewed action against Iran's central bank after US officials said Tehran carried out weekend attacks on rival Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, which triggered a spike in global crude prices.

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‘Do a lot of stupid sh*t as quickly as possible’: Ambassador Power breaks down ’The Trump Doctrine’

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The former ambassador to the United Nations explained "The Trump Doctrine" during a Friday evening interview with comedian Bill Maher on HBO's "Real Time."

Samantha Power, the author of the new book, The Education of an Idealist, was asked by Maher about the foreign policy mantra of the Obama administration.

"Obama's foreign policy doctrine was famously summarized as 'don't do stupid sh*t," Maher noted. "Trump's, of course, is 'Do stupid sh*t.'"

"Do stupid sh*t as quickly as possible," Power clarified.

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