Bill and Melinda Gates spoke to a Brussels audience, which didn’t appear shocked by their endorsement of GMO crops.
The philanthropist family’s visit to the capital of the European Union coincided with the release of their annual Annual Letter, in which they make the “big bet” that the lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history.
Speaking to the audience, Bill Gates said that the strongest analogy when speaking about GMOs was with medicines, where people also worried about their side effects.
The idea that a single technique could solve nutrition and disease problems for African farmers is an absolute life-and-death issue for them, Gates argued.
“I think Africans have a sovereign right,” Gates said, referring to their choice to use “innovative farming techniques.” He gave cassava disease as an example. There is a GMO cassava that stops nausea disease, he said. “Should African countries be told not to use it? What would happen if the disease went rampant?” he questioned.
“Every country should be able to decide if they want to pay more for food, if they would use more insecticides. It’s OK. Europeans can do whatever they when it comes with food. They can pay twice as much, four times as much, it’s OK,” Gates said.
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