Throughout history, successful world leaders have recognized the importance of agriculture to their own countries. French President Charles de Gaulle once stated that “a nation that cannot feed itself is not a great nation.”, and more recently President George W. Bush was quoted as saying “When we speak of agriculture we are really speaking about a national security issue.” Cliff Lamb is the head of Texas A&M’s Animal Science Department.
“I grew up in Zimbabwe Africa and in growing up there on an operation and then watching what happens when the government actually eliminates the agricultural system by taking away all of the farms.”
Lamb says that twenty years ago Zimbabwe was called the bread basket of Africa.
“We were producing enough food that we could feed five countries. And within three years we couldn’t even feed a quarter of the population there. So were people starving in Africa, absolutely, but those were in different parts of Africa. But now, in that part of Africa, people are starving.”
And Lamb says food insecurity creates a national security issue.
“You get a brain drain. All of the very smart people leave the country. A big proportion of them leave the country. And then you get into a situation where the country becomes corrupt. Things just start falling apart, and it snowballs, and then turning it around is virtually impossible. Crime is just a massive problem there.”
Lamb points out that the ripple effects are international.
“What that does is it puts pressure on everybody else, too, I mean the U.S. actually had pressure put on them because they had to start sending aid. So they have to start sending food to a country now that’s starving.”
Lamb says that the people that created the problem refused some of the aid because it contained GMOs.
“To me the biggest education is having a political system that supports agriculture. I’ve always been a very big advocate of trying to make sure that we politically put enough pressure on folks to make sure that they are supporting agricultural systems.”