Western do-gooders are impoverishing Africa by promoting traditional farming at the expense of modern scientific agriculture, according to Britain's former chief scientist.

Anti-science attitudes among aid agencies, poverty campaigners and green activists are denying the continent access to technology that could improve millions of lives, Professor Sir David King said Sept. 8.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from Europe and America are turning African countries against sophisticated farming methods, including genetically modified crops, in favor of indigenous and organic approaches that cannot deliver the continent's much needed "green revolution," he believes.

Speaking before a keynote lecture to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, of which he is president, Sir David said that the slow pace of African development was linked directly to Western influence.

"I'm going to suggest, and I believe this very strongly, that a big part has been played in the impoverishment of that continent by the focus on non-technological agricultural techniques, on techniques of farming that pertain to the history of that continent rather than techniques that pertain to modern technological capability.

"Why has that continent not joined Asia in the big green revolutions that have taken place over the past few decades? The suffering within that continent, I believe, is largely driven by attitudes developed in the West which are somewhat anti-science, anti-technology — attitudes that lead towards organic farming, for example, attitudes that lead against the use of genetic technology for crops that could deal with increased salinity in the water, that can deal with flooding for rice crops, that can deal with drought resistance."

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