Mitch in the Wings?

A couple of days ago, former Indiana governor and current Purdue University president Mitch Daniels wrote a piece in the DDID about the anti-GMO movement, starting with this:

Of the several claims of “anti-science” that clutter our national debates these days, none can be more flagrantly clear than the campaign against modern agricultural technology, most specifically the use of molecular techniques to create genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Here, there are no credibly conflicting studies, no arguments about the validity of computer models, no disruption of an ecosystem nor any adverse human health or even digestive problems, after 5 billion acres have been cultivated cumulatively and trillions of meals consumed.

And yet a concerted, deep-pockets campaign, as relentless as it is baseless, has persuaded a high percentage of Americans and Europeans to avoid GMO products, and to pay premium prices for “non-GMO” or “organic” foods that may in some cases be less safe and less nutritious. Thank goodness the toothpaste makers of the past weren’t cowed so easily; the tubes would have said “No fluoride inside!” and we’d all have many more cavities.

This is the kind of foolishness that rich societies can afford to indulge. But when they attempt to inflict their superstitions on the poor and hungry peoples of the planet, the cost shifts from affordable to dangerous and the debate from scientific to moral.

It’s hard to argue against his position (and I won’t), especially when the science is so clear cut. I’m not sure what prompted Daniels to write on the subject (maybe it was just that his university is invested in GMO research), but I can’t help but think that he’s also telling the American people, “I’m here and ready to serve.”

Over the course of his career in the private and public sectors, he has been smart, innovative and resourceful. Eli Lilly made good money with him at the helm. He was highly effective as governor of Indiana, and he has taken that effectiveness to Purdue, where he has kept tuition rates flat but has increased enrollment, all the while trying new ventures such as Degree in 3 [years] and buying an online college (Kaplan University) for one dollar (my own prior observations here and here). It is that kind of public-sector management and outreach that this nation could really use.

In the event a Trump administration craters, a Daniels administration would step in and offer intelligence and practical conservative solutions to the issues we face, in my opinion. His one drawback is age. He would be pushing 72 in January 2021. But hey, 72 is the new 62, or something. We could do a lot worse.

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