Consider: Third World people were better fed before we started interfering with their diets; most of the famine we see on TV is the direct result of international aid; by introducing inappropriate single-crop agriculture that invites disease, depends on chemicals that exhaust the soil, wipes out native plants, and disrupts native cultures, the Green Revolution has caused long-term damage; food aid is geared to the needs of the donors, not the recipients. In short, relief programs cause famine. None of these are new ideas. All or most have by now been acknowledged by the establishment organizations (World Bank; National Academy of Science) quoted here. But the late Rodale (Our Next Frontier, 1981), aiming at a popular audience, states the case directly and supports it with some persuasive points. (On roads, for one example: Food relief and high-tech equipment can't get to the rural poor for want of them. Forty-five billion dollars' worth of roads that international aid has built in 85 countries have been lost for lack of maintenance, while existing roads are controlled by soldiers who steal the supplies to sell on the black market.) Outside the loyal readership of the Rodale family's publishing empire, which has advocated sustainable organic farming for many decades, some might be put off by the patronizing first- and second-person prose here, which reads like those four-page fund- raisers with which various nonprofits stuff the mailboxes of targeted recipients. But that's just what Rodale (who died last fall in a car crash on a business trip to Russia) is up to: After outlining what should be done, he calls for twenty-to-thirty thousand people to provide the $100 per donor, in cash or time, that he says will do it. Readers who get that far may well be motivated to pitch in.
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