Opinion

The Great Debate

What would ‘Malthusian years’ bring?

Alberta farmer

global_post_logoTom Abate covers the technology sector for GlobalPost, where this article first appeared. Any views expressed are his own.

It seems like a science fiction novel: Near-starvation of much of the world’s population results in the development of patented seeds and widespread livestock cloning.

But that scenario is not pure speculation. Rather it is a possible future envisioned by analysts for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, in a new report titled “The Bioeconomy of 2030.”

The report, which extrapolates current trends into the year 2030, deals with every aspect of biotechnology from medicines to plant-based chemicals, and projects their impacts on the world economy. It raises the fictional starvation scenario to prod the public and policymakers into considering biotech agriculture in a new light.

“Two consecutive years of extreme drought and high temperatures in the major grain growing regions of the world between 2016 and 2017 … caused an explosion in food prices,” says the report published last month. “The ‘Malthusian years’, as they were quickly called by journalists, fueled further investment in agricultural biotechnology.”

G20 ends Anglo-Saxon era

Paul Taylor Great Debate

– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Thursday’s G20 summit may not mark the end or even the beginning of the end of the global recession. It did mark the end of the ascendancy of the unfettered, Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism.

What comes next is far from sure, but it will be different from the headlong dash for individual enrichment, short-term profit and financial acrobatics that began with the dominance of U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. The widespread acceptance of increased regulation would have been anathema for U.S. President Barack Obama‘s predecessors.

U.S. fights fire, Germans fear flood

Paul Taylor Great Debate– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The United States is fighting a fire in the world economy, but Germany and some other European countries fear a flood of inflation as a result.

That clash of cultures is at the heart of transatlantic debate over whether Europe should spend more and ease monetary policy to revive growth, with a deep economic contraction certain this year and an end to the recession not yet in sight.

Ask the World Bank President

Robert ZoellickRobert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, and a man who believes that 2009 will be a “dangerous year”, will be speaking on March 31st and has agreed to take questions from Reuters readers.

Zoellick has been outspoken during the current economic crisis predicting the first shrinking of the economy since the ’30s, warning that increased government spending will simply create a ‘sugar high‘ until banks’ toxic assets are dealt with properly, and urging a tougher stand against protectionism.

But the World Bank’s primary focus is on helping developing nations and alleviating  poverty. Earlier this month it published research showing that the spreading crisis will push 46 million more people into poverty in 2009 on top of 130-155 million pushed into poverty in 2008.

China needs to be bold to ride out the storm

Wei Gu– Wei Gu is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own. –

Beijing risks inflicting even more damage to the world economy by reflexively slowing market reforms in response to the financial crisis. But China’s leaders should quicken, not slow, the pace of reform to help it ride through the storm.

This December marks the 30th anniversary of China’s decision to embrace market liberalization but with growth becoming the No.1 concern in China, reforms have taken a back seat.

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