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Xenophobia linked to genetically-modified crops?

25 May 2008

The Strange Maps blog has posted maps of Germany showing a correlation between the growing of genetically modified crops and racist violence. It points out that the source of the maps is a satirical magazine, and warns that correlation does not necessarily mean causation:

Well, yes: there is an obvious correlation between the geography of transgenic corn and the geography of neo-fascism in Germany. As everyone knows, correlation does not imply causality. Although it is true that since the Middle Ages, the number of witches burned has decreased while the average temperature of the Earth has increased, global warming wouldn’t be reversed by throwing old ladies on pyres.

The second example doesn’t work, at least not in South Africa, where many more suspected witches have been killed over the last couple of decades than foreigners. There is probably a link, in that the kind of people who use violence against suspected witches are probably also those who use violence against foreigners — both kinds of violence take place in poor communities.

But before dismissing this as a conspiracy theory with no basis in reality, it might be worth considering that Germany was the last country to hold the soccer World Cup, and one of the concerns expressed before it took place was the number of attacks on foreigners by thugs. That doesn’t mean that the soccer world cup is a causative factor in xenophobic violence, but it does show that South Africa is not alone in experiencing such problems.

One problem with the maps is that the growing of corn bears little relation to the marketing. Corn may be grown and milled in one part of the country, but bread is sold all over. Most South African wheat is grown in the Free State, and most maize is grown in Mpumalanga, yet most of the xenophobic violence this year has taken place in Gauteng — Atteridgeville in March, Mamelodi in April, Alexandra in May.

Though, come to think of it, some historians have seriously suggested a correlation between diseases of corn and the Great European Witch Hunt.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 26 May 2008 6:59 am

    Ergot -yes.
    Although doubtful as any large causative factor in the witchburnings.
    As you know, the hallucinogenic properties of ergot may well have been central to the Eleusinian Mysteries.
    So maybe old ladies tripping on fungus were considered witches?
    Nah…

    Love,
    Terri in Joburg

  2. 26 May 2008 7:22 am

    Aquila,

    I have also seen explanations of the Great European Witch Hunt that link it to sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs):

    Andreski, Stanislav. 1989. Syphilis, Puritanism and witch hunts: historical explanations in the light of medicine and psychoanalysis with a forecast about AIDS. London: Macmillan.
    ISBN: 0-333-43588-5
    Dewey: 303.485

    Andreski believes that the Great Witchhunt in Europe was caused by the introduction of syphilis from the New World

    So perhaps both witch hunts and xenophobia in southern Africa are linked to the spread of Aids.

    But I didn’t find Andreski’s arguments on that very convincing.

    BTW Your avatar on MyBlogLog doesn’t link back to your blog. You might like to check it. I like to use MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog to see who has visited my blog, so I can pay a return visit to theirs, but in yours the link doesn’t work.

  3. 19 June 2008 7:13 am

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Resectional.

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