The FT Fact Checks Prince Charles’ GM Food Fears

The droit de seigneur of His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, does not quite entitle him to his own facts, as the FT notes today:

Prince Charles, furthermore, made a number of assertions that are simply wrong. The water table is falling in the Punjab, he said, because of GM crops. Nonsense. The water problems are the result of subsidies on rice and electricity. The subsidies encourage the cultivation of rice which – GM or not – requires a paddy field filled with water. Since electricity is free to the farmers, they leave water pumps on constantly and bleed their aquifers dry. The Punjab’s problems are caused by the Punjab’s politicians.

The prince also blamed the high salt levels in the soil of Western Australia on the excesses of modern farming. But salination there is caused by deforestation and geology. It has always been a problem for Australian farmers and was first noted in the 1920s (when Monsanto, the GM food giant, was still making rubber and aspirin).

The prince has done good works through his charities, but he should be guided by science, not superstition. “Let them eat organic shortbread” is no answer to rising food prices.

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