More world hunger and a chicken in every driveway is apparently the goal of a group pushing for an excise tax on “factory farm meat.” The Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE) cites environmental, animal welfare and human health concerns as the rationale for taxing products from any livestock operation of more than “1,000 animal units.”

The group says taxing products from these “industrial animal producers” will make “free-range, organic meat” more competitively priced for the consumer.

It's another cockamamie idea from naïve, well-fed folks whose perspective doesn't reach beyond their own well-stocked grocery shelves. They've dedicated themselves to “saving” the world from advancements in high-yield agriculture and biotech crops, but they ignore the catastrophic human misery and environmental degradation such a policy would create.

The Washington Post reports that within five years for the first time in history more of the world's people will live in cities than in rural areas. The greatest population growth will come in the swelling cities of Asia, Africa and South America. By 2030, an estimated 56% of the developing world will be urban dwellers.

While Americans spend less than 10% of their income on food, the world's poor spend 60-70%, says Charles Muscoplat, University of Minnesota vice president of agricultural policy. He adds food production must double in the next 50 years while preserving the environment in order to meet the growing demand.

Yet, GRACE campaigns against the technology that can provide that kind of production while minimizing the number of acres needed to produce it. So, while GRACE and other such groups in the U.S., Europe and Japan squeal on about monsters under the bed, the Third World wonders why its critical needs are regarded so lightly.

In July, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, lead author of the United Nations Development Programme's annual Human Development Report, addressed that issue.

Fukuda-Parr said that by hampering the development of genetically modified foods, Western environmental groups were hamstringing the capability of the Third World to feed itself. She challenged these groups to provide the evidence that these foods harm the environment and public health.

So, where's the evidence, GRACE?

Introductions And Goodbyes

It's my pleasure to announce that Diana Barto, formerly the associate editor for BEEF, has assumed a new position as senior associate editor. Diana, who's an organizational whiz and has covered food safety and consumer issues for BEEF, will take on additional duties in staff management, coordination and planning. Diana is an Oklahoma native and Oklahoma State University graduate.

Meanwhile, it's tough to say goodbye to Managing Editor Kindra Gordon, who's given up the concrete canyons of Minneapolis for the verdant slopes of South Dakota's Black Hills. The new base for Kindra, husband Bruce and their son Bridger is Spearfish. One of the industry's top talents, she'll be greatly missed, both personally and professionally.

In addition, Mark Hilton, DVM, debuts this month as a new contributor to our “Vets' Opinion” column (page 8). Mark, a beef production medicine clinician at Purdue University, joins Mike Apley, DVM, of Iowa State University as the newest half of the duo that pens that popular column every other month for BEEF.

Mark hails from central Indiana, the product of a beef and swine farm. Following 15 years in private practice in DeWitt, IA, he joined the Purdue veterinary school faculty in 1998. He and wife Denise have two sons, Matt, 16, and Steven, 13.

Mark replaces Jerry Stokka, DVM, who recently left Kansas State University after 12 years to join Pfizer Animal Health as senior veterinarian. Jerry's new base will be the family ranch in Cooperstown, ND. I greatly appreciate his efforts the past two years and wish him and his family the best.