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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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受験英語の功罪? もう10年も20年も前のこと

 
受験英語好きの英語教師は相変わらず受験英語の素晴らしさを伝えようとしていますが、僕に取っては10年も20年も前のことですから。。。社会人にとって重要なことは、大学以降の学習態度でしょう。それに、僕に取って受験英語好きの英語教師の説得力が乏しいのは、New YorkerとかEconomistとかガンガン読める人がほとんどいないことです。10年も20年も30年も受験英語とやらを教えても、洋書・洋雑誌の量を読める人になっていないじゃないかと思うのです。いつまでも低空飛行の人の何を参考にすればいいのでしょうか。

まあ、僕は受験英語かどうかには興味がありません。そんなことよりもNew Yorkerとかの雑誌を普通に読めることを目指した方が社会人のやり直し英語にはいいと思います。遥かに高い目標ですが、幅広い知識・教養は語学学習には不可欠ですから。英語学習法と人生論しか語れない英語教師を目指してもしょうがないでしょう

ということでNew Yorkerの記事の紹介です。すみません、取って付けたような書き出しになってしまいましたが、記事紹介がメインです。今週の特集記事は遺伝子組み換えなどに反対している活動家Vandana Shivaを中心にさまざまな角度から検討しています。昨年10月の英検1級でもGolden Riceがとりあげられましたし、今週の話題はとっつきやすいのではないでしょうか。

Annals of Science AUGUST 25, 2014 ISSUE
Seeds of Doubt
An activist’s controversial crusade against genetically modified crops.
BY MICHAEL SPECTER

8千語を超える記事ですが、これくらいの長さに慣れるようにしないといつまでたっても洋書は読めないです。

Words checked = [8425]
Words in Oxford 3000™ = [84%]

表紙のサブタイトルは以下のようなものだったので、この運動に全面的に肩入れしていないことは想像できます。

Can we feed the world without destroying the planet?
An environment activist with a global following is leading a fight against genetically modified crops. But are they a corporate scourge or a solution to hunger?

将来的な問題は何よりも人口が増えても耕地面積がこれ以上増えない中で、どのように食糧を調達していくかということでしょう。

The global food supply is indeed in danger. Feeding the expanding population without further harming the Earth presents one of the greatest challenges of our time, perhaps of all time. By the end of the century, the world may well have to accommodate ten billion inhabitants—roughly the equivalent of adding two new Indias. Sustaining that many people will require farmers to grow more food in the next seventy-five years than has been produced in all of human history. For most of the past ten thousand years, feeding more people simply meant farming more land. That option no longer exists; nearly every arable patch of ground has been cultivated, and irrigation for agriculture already consumes seventy per cent of the Earth’s freshwater.

The nutritional demands of the developing world’s rapidly growing middle class—more protein from pork, beef, chicken, and eggs—will add to the pressure; so will the ecological impact of climate change, particularly in India and other countries where farmers depend on monsoons. Many scientists are convinced that we can hope to meet those demands only with help from the advanced tools of plant genetics. Shiva disagrees; she looks upon any seed bred in a laboratory as an abomination.



今回紹介されているVandana Shivaという方を知りませんでしたが、結構有名なようです。ただ、遺伝子組み換え作物だけでなく、化学肥料にも反対の極端な人のようです。

Shiva, along with a growing army of supporters, argues that the prevailing model of industrial agriculture, heavily reliant on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fossil fuels, and a seemingly limitless supply of cheap water, places an unacceptable burden on the Earth’s resources. She promotes, as most knowledgeable farmers do, more diversity in crops, greater care for the soil, and more support for people who work the land every day. Shiva has particular contempt for farmers who plant monocultures—vast fields of a single crop. “They are ruining the planet,” she told me. “They are destroying this beautiful world.”

現代テクノロジー批判はその反動として過去の美化につながりやすいですが、Shivaさんを批判する人はその点を挙げています。

“It is absolutely remarkable to me how Vandana Shiva is able to get away with saying whatever people want to hear,” Gordon Conway told me recently. Conway is the former president of the Rockefeller Foundation and a professor at London’s Imperial College. His book “One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?” has become an essential text for those who study poverty, agriculture, and development.

“Shiva is lionized, particularly in the West, because she presents the romantic view of the farm,” Conway said. “Truth be damned. People in the rich world love to dabble in a past they were lucky enough to avoid—you know, a couple of chickens running around with the children in the back yard. But farming is bloody tough, as anyone who does it knows. It is like those people who romanticize villages in the developing world. Nobody who ever lived in one would do that.”

今回の記事ではShivaさんを批判的に取り上げ、遺伝子組み換えで評価できるところは評価しようとしています。Monsanto作物を導入すると自殺につながるという組み替え反対派の過激な主張も組み替え作物が直接の原因ではないと冷静に見ています。

Responsible newspapers and reputable writers, often echoing Shiva’s rhetoric, have written about the “suicide-seed” connection as if it were an established fact. In 2011, an American filmmaker, Micha Peled, released “Bitter Seeds,” which argues that Monsanto and its seeds have been responsible for the suicides of thousands of farmers. The film received warm recommendations from food activists in the U.S. “Films like this can change the world,” the celebrity chef Alice Waters said when she saw it. As the journalist Keith Kloor pointed out earlier this year, in the journal Issues in Science and Technology, the farmer-suicide story even found its way into the scientific community. Last October, at a public discussion devoted to food security, the Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich stated that Monsanto had “killed most of those farmers in India.” Ehrlich also famously predicted, in the nineteen-sixties, that famine would strike India and that, within a decade, “hundreds of millions of people will starve to death.” Not only was he wrong but, between 1965 and 1972, India’s wheat production doubled.

The World Health Organization has estimated that a hundred and seventy thousand Indians commit suicide each year—nearly five hundred a day. Although many Indian farmers kill themselves, their suicide rate has not risen in a decade, according to a study by Ian Plewis, of the University of Manchester. In fact, the suicide rate among Indian farmers is lower than for other Indians and is comparable to that among French farmers. Plewis found that “the pattern of changes in suicide rates over the last fifteen years is consistent with a beneficial effect of Bt cotton for India as a whole, albeit perhaps not in every cotton-growing state.”

この作者は遺伝子組み替えに肯定的立場のようで、すでに医療の現場では遺伝子組み換えの治療は受入れられていると語っています。

The most persistent objection to agricultural biotechnology, and the most common, is that, by cutting DNA from one species and splicing it into another, we have crossed an invisible line and created forms of life unlike anything found in “nature.” That fear is unquestionably sincere. Yet, as a walk through any supermarket would demonstrate, nearly every food we eat has been modified, if not by genetic engineering then by more traditional cross-breeding, or by nature itself. Corn in its present form wouldn’t exist if humans hadn’t cultivated the crop. The plant doesn’t grow in the wild and would not survive if we suddenly stopped eating it.

When it comes to medicine, most Americans couldn’t care less about nature’s boundaries. Surgeons routinely suture pig valves into the hearts of humans; the operation has kept tens of thousands of people alive. Synthetic insulin, the first genetically modified product, is consumed each day by millions of diabetics. To make the drug, scientists insert human proteins into a common bacteria, which is then grown in giant industrial vats. Protesters don’t march to oppose those advances. In fact, consumers demand them, and it doesn’t seem to matter where the replacement parts come from.


もちろん、支持・反対の単純な図式で捉えているわけではありません。まずは大事な事は結論を出す前にいろいろと問題を検討してみることでしょう。今回の記事からいろいろ学べることがあります。
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