Can organic farming feed the world?
To most of the powers that be—I mean governments, corporates, and their expert advisers—the organic movement is a side issue. If we really want to feed the world, they say, we need the methods of industry. We need industrial chemistry to fertilise the fields and keep the pests at bay. We need to operate on the biggest possible scale—fields as broad as small cities, combine harvesters as big as small hotels, multi-storey units with a million pigs in them—as are already standard in the United States and are planned and probably already up and running in Europe. More and more, too, as human numbers grow and the climate changes and the soil turns to dust we will need biotech —crops and livestock modified by genetic engineering, known as GMOs.
That is current wisdom, as apparently believed and certainly broadcast from on high.
We need to do all this, furthermore, with minimum labour. The US and Britain are showing the way. Both are truly urban societies with only one per cent of the workforce on the land.
OK -- industrial agriculture may not always be pretty—it isn't always picture postcard stuff -- but it's necessary. Organic farming, by contrast, in the end is an indulgence. There's a vogue for it, perhaps, but it'll never be more than a niche market—just another quirk of the green movement. It's fun for the middle classes, but in the end it's effete.
This is what the world's biggest governments seem to believe. With their blessing, and taxpayers' support, the modern food industry flourishes like the green bay tree. It isn't merely lucrative but also—unlike the arms industry, say—it contrives to occupy the moral high ground—none more so than Britain's retail leader Tesco, with its “every little helps”. It is supported by experts of all kinds—economists, accountants, MBAs, lawyers, and above all, scientists. The experts are very well rewarded, of course, but deservedly so. Without them, the rest of us would be in deep trouble. As a former British prime minister was wont to say, “There is no alternative”.
But suppose all this received wisdom is not true. Suppose the core belief of the world's most powerful governments, and some of its biggest industries, and all its most valued experts, turns out simply to be mistake. Suppose, after all, we really don't need all that agro-chemistry, and those vast and labour-free estates, and those enormous animal sweat-houses. Suppose, biotech in reality is just another example of commercial kite-flying, in a world where the sky is full of kites.
Suppose there is an alternative after all; and suppose that that alternative is the thing that the powers-be treat as a side-show, and often openly disdain. Suppose organic farming really could feed us all—and indeed do it better than the industrial kind. That, surely, would make a difference to all our thinking and to our prospects. Wouldn't it?
Of course it would make a huge difference. Actually I think if humanity really was serious about its present plight, and about its future, and the future of the world as a whole, we would perceive that the question posed tonight—“Can organic farming feed the world?”—is perhaps the most important that we could be asking. And we should be extremely grateful to Eve Balfour. She did not invent organic farming—as Tewolde and Sue say in their paper, organic farming is the original kind, at least 10,000 years old. But she did identify it as a discrete entity, at a time when industrial farming was still new. I feel very honoured to be invited to discuss this question in this company and in her name.
So what's the answer? Can organic farming feed the world?
Well, the answer is surely a resounding “Yes”. Of course it can. Basic principles, common sense, a certain amount of empirical data—and the entire history of humankind—all indicate that this must be the case.
Crops are the basic issue. Livestock matters too—we needn't and I think shouldn't be vegetarian—but animals need crops too, if we include grass and trees, which in this context we should. Crops need warmth. They must be watered and nourished, and their myriad pests and rivals must be kept at bay—viruses, bacteria, fungi, worms, molluscs, insects, mites, and invasive weeds. Warmth and water are much the same for organic farmers as for industrial farmers. So the two key questions for organic farmers are—can we provide all the nourishment that crops need, without recourse to artificial fertilisers? And can we keep the pests, parasites, and weeds at bay without modern, lab-made, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides?
To placate Syngenta and Monsanto, and for the benefit of Tony Blair and the Royal Society, we might add a third question: Can we really do without GMOs? Do the doubts that some people have about them even remotely detract from their possible advantages?
Well, it would be hard to fertilise—nourish—all the world's crops purely by organic means but it is surely do-able. Of all the many nutrients that plants need the most critical is nitrogen—the stuff of proteins and nucleic acids. Many plants, both domestic and wild, fail to realise their potential because the climate is too cold or too dry. But after warmth and water are taken care of, the main cause of shortfall is lack of nitrogen. The air contains an endless supply of nitrogen in the form of gas but in gaseous form it's of no direct use to plants. They need to take their nitrogen in the form of nitrates, or of ammonia.
Organic farmers supply nitrogen by one of three routes.
First, they may make use of nitrate-rich rocks, which they crush. Secondly, they exploit the phenomenon of “nitrogen fixation”—by which nitrogen gas, ubiquitous but useless, is converted into ammonia and nitrates. Thirdly, they use nitrogen-rich manures, which ideally are first composted.
The first source is minor: crushed up rocks don't contribute much overall.
But nitrogen fixation is very important indeed. A significant amount is achieved by lightning—the electric charge converts nitrogen gas to nitrate as it flashes through the atmosphere, and the rain arrives with nourishment on board.
Much more important, though, is nitrogen fixation achieved by various kinds of bacteria. Many live free in the soil. In the flooded—paddy—rice fields of South East Asia there lives a floating fern, Azolla; and a blue-green bacterium known as Anabaena lurks within its leaves, and fixes nitrogen, and supplies nitrates both to the Azolla and to the rice—an invaluable, natural, traditional source of fertility.
Most important of all, though, are the various bacteria that live in special nodules in the roots of the plants themselves. By far the most important of these are bacteria of the genus Rhizobium, which live in the roots of plants colloquially known as “legumes”: trees such as acacias and leucaena; shrubs such as gorse and broom; all the pulse crops—peas, beans, lentils; and the fodder crops, clover, alfalfa (alias lucerne), vetches and the rest; plus a few fancy types such as fenugreek.
Legumes are wonderfully obliging plants. They can grow on infertile soils—low in nitrogen—and yet produce leaves and seeds that are rich in protein both for people and livestock. They are also leaky. They enrich non-leguminous plants growing around them—so that clover is often grown with grass, and leguminous trees are sometimes grown to shade coffee, which they help to nourish at the same time. When included in rotations—which they often are—they also enrich other crops grown the following season. Crops of clover or alfalfa can be ploughed straight in to the soil as green manure. Legumes are a literal godsend.
Finally, organic farmers make use of nitrogen rich compost, made with nitrogen-rich fresh leaves, or with animal manure. Compost is invaluable and greatly enhances the texture of the soil as well as its nutrient content. But there are various downsides. Notably, if vegetation is brought in from elsewhere to make compost—and seaweed is often recommended—then, in effect, the wild environment is being robbed to support the farm: which, ecologically speaking, is not ideal. Manure comes from beasts that are raised on the farm itself—but then, no new nitrogen is introduced. Animals merely recirculate nitrate that's in the soil already. So the only source of genuinely new nitrogen is what's fixed from the atmosphere, primarily by bacteria, and largely by rhizobial bacteria in the roots of legumes.
But of course with each harvest there's a net loss of nitrogen. It is removed in protein-rich crops and in meat and milk. The human beings who consume the crops, then excrete the surplus nitrogen—but unlike the farm's own livestock, they do not for the most part excrete directly back on to the fields. Many societies through all of history have returned their poo to the fields and probably in the modern world we should make more use of sewage than we do. But although it is technically fairly straightforward to harvest sewage it is also logistically difficult for many obvious and not-so-obvious reasons, and therefore very expensive. So there is always going to be a loss of nitrogen from the fields—in the form of human excrement that is not put back where it came from.
So the question is—can organic farmers make good this continual loss?
Again, the answer surely has to be “Yes”. They have merely to grow more acacias, beans, or alfalfa. But of course nothing is for nothing. Nitrogen fixation requires energy and crops that practice it give less total yield than cereals or potatoes, say, which do not. So you need more land to grow an equivalent amount of food than you would if you got your N from the factory.
On the other hand, in the modern world we are producing too much meat. The rich world would do well to eat less of it, and the poor world would do well to avoid producing much more than it does already—and if we raised less meat, then we could save far more land than we would lose by growing more clover.
So all in all, soil fertility should not pose an insuperable problem. If we wanted to grow all our crops by organic means, we could surely do so.
What of parasite and weed control? That is tricky, too, but again common sense and at least some data suggest that it is surely do-able. Industrially grown crops in general are extremely vulnerable—ludicrously so—largely because they are so uniform, and grown as monocultures—just one variety at a time. For good measure they are typically grown on vast fields to reap economies of scale—and to make best make use of cottage-sized combine harvesters. A pest or a pathogen that invades just one plant in the field, can affect them all equally. Monocultures in the past have run into huge problems. Monoculture was the biological cause of the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, when the lumper potatoes were almost all wiped out by potato blight; and it caused the collapse of the American maize crop in the 1920s through southern corn blight. DDT in the 1930s, and a host of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides since, have often seemed a boon indeed.
Organic farmers get round the problems in seven main ways—all designed to put parasites on to the back foot, make sure they have as little as possible of any one crop to get their teeth into, and as far as possible using one crop or animal to protect another.
In a nutshell the methods are:
Resistant varieties, including traditional landraces.
The individual varieties are genetically varied.
Many different crops are mixed: mixed farming
Integrate many different crops with varied livestock
Cheating—using things like copper.
Overall, organic farms effectively reflect nature: a great variety of plants and livestock all grown together. In other words, organic farming is deeply rooted in the laws of biology—laws which in the end, cannot be flouted. But I will come back to this.
The immediate issue is—Could all this manoeuvring feed the world, all by itself, if applied universally?
Well, all the indications are that it could: and there is very little evidence of a kind that is honest, and dispassionate, to suggest that it could not.
To begin with, all human history suggests that organic farming could certainly do the trick.
Thus, from that they say and do, modern policy-makers—governments, captains of industry, and their survivors—clearly believe that modern industrial methods and its supporting science are absolutely vital for human survival. Thus they seem to believe that through most of history human existence has, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, been nasty, brutish, and short. By the early 20th century, in the world view of the powers-that-be, the human species was about to collapse.
Then, in the nick of time, along came modern industrial farming, rooted firmly in science; and suddenly, as in Genesis, all was light. Biotech—with the modern market economy—have been the final glory. As an MBA said to me the other day, “History began in 1980”.
The ignorance is sublime. The facts are all together different.
Thus it is, as Tewolde and Sue point out, that most farming through most of human history has been organic: and this means for at least the past 10,000 years, since the last Ice Age ended. The underlying science of modern farming was largely founded in the 19th century—Leibig and Lawes; Mendel; Pasteur and Koch; and so on. But this science did not translate into practice until about the 1930s—or not, at least, on a scale to make much difference.
When human beings first started farming, at the end of the last Ice Age, the world population stood at ten million, or so it's estimated. That, perhaps, is about as many as there could be if we remained as hunter-gatherers. By the time modern agricultural science came on board in the 1930s, the world population already stood at well over two billion—2000 million. So there had been a 200 fold increase in numbers since our hunter gathering days.
That 200 fold increase was brought about by traditional farming—organic farming—without any input from industrial methods at all.
Since then, of course, the world population has increased another three times, to around six billion—6000 million. But this isn't all down to industrialisation. The total area devoted to arable crops—the staples, that is: wheat, rice, maize, soya and the rest—has increased by around 50 per cent since the 1930s. That alone could have supported a 50 per cent rise in human numbers—and if it had been farmed by the methods of traditional organic farming then it would have allowed a rise to three billion. In other words, simple historical statistics, eminently checkable, indicate that organic farming has or easily could have produced a 300 fold increase in human numbers since our hunter gathering days.
But now, of course, we have six billion—not three billion. So perhaps we can ascribe that final doubling to modern agro-science?
Well no. It is at least reasonable to guess that a fair proportion of the increase since the 1930s has been brought about simply by the spread of traditional farming. In fact, probably at least four billion out of today's six billion owe their existence to organic farming rather than to industrial farming.
Even on these figures, it's clear that agricultural industrial science did not rescue the failing human species like the US cavalry in the fifth reel. Just to shift the metaphor, it has been the gilt on the gingerbread.
But there is more. As Tewolde and Sue also point out, organic farming has been neglected. It is subtle, and can be endlessly intricate—to an extent, the more intricate it is, the better. It is not, like so much of modern industrial farming, just an exercise in industrial chemistry. It requires—or at least it benefits from—deep knowledge of soil chemistry and structure, of plant physiology, and of the behaviour and ecology of the potential pests. Organic farmers are sometimes perceived to be anti-science. But most of those that I know are very pro-science. They are objecting to the kind of science that is simply intended to promote industrialisation—which is the main kind these days: paid for by industry but also propped up by us, as tax-payers. If science was applied to organic farming on the scale—or even on a tenth of the scale—that is now lavished on industrial farming, then surely it would have leapt ahead in leaps and bounds.
Put all this together, and there is absolutely no reason to doubt that organic methods—traditional methods refined and updated—could feed the present world easily. After all, they demonstrably did two thirds of the job without any modern science at all. The modern kind of farming—modern but very, very crude—has been the Johnny come lately.
What of the future? Syngenta—and Tony Blair—queue up to assure us that without high-tech, industrial agriculture, our grandchildren will surely starve. In particular, the modern war-cry has it, to oppose the rise of GMOs is to be hideously irresponsible.
But the advocates of industrial modernity are clearly assuming that human numbers will go on rising steadily for ever and ever, so that all the stops must be pulled out: in particular, more and more industrial chemisty, abetted by biotech.
The United Nations demographers tell a quite different story. The percentage rate of increase of human numbers is slowing down. By 2050, the percentage rate of increase will be zero. This means the population will stop growing. By then it will stand at about nine billion. Organic farming could clearly feed six billion—and there is no good reason to doubt that with further tweaking, it could rise to the task of feeding nine. All that's needed is excellent science applied to problems that really need solving; and capital investment in farms that are truly doing a good job, as opposed to those that are simply making some people rich.
Of course, there are a few studies to show that while organically grown crops may yield heavily, they can yield even more if plied with artificial fertilisers and protected by modern pesticides. This is entirely unsurprising. For instance, organic farmers do expect to suffer some losses through pests—and if you zap everything that moves and run the farm like an intensive care unit, then of course you can get a bit more—at least in the short term. Nonetheless, zealots of modernity take such studies as evidence that although organic farming might have its strengths, industrial methods have the edge—and in a precarious world they are necessary.
But again such arguments largely reflect either ignorance or cynicism. We should be talking about feeding the world; and in particular, as things are, about providing enough food in difficult areas—and notably Africa, which in many ways is the most difficult of all. If that is our target—feeding the world—then maximum yield is very rarely the issue. Traditional African farmers (who are traditional organic farmers) do indeed produce far smaller yields than their counterparts in, say, Lincolnshire. One tonne of grain per hectare in dry tropical Africa is a very good crop, while a farmer in East Anglia would expect 12 tonnes.
But there are so many other things to take into account. In particular, the African climate is immensely unreliable. The task, as the farmer quite rightly sees it, is not to produce maximum yields in the occasional, very good years, but to ensure that yields are adequate even in the worst years. Security, not productivity, is the priority. Maximum outputs require very big inputs, of machinery and chemistry and in the end of cash. It is ludicrous to invest heavily in crops that are likely to fail, at least up to a point, through climate, which the farmer can do nothing about. All farmers know this. Some systems are high input/ high output; and some are low input/ modest output. All but the most favoured corners of Africa, like South Africa's Stellenbosch where they grow the wine, in general favours the latter. We are regaled these days brochures showing happy Africans with bumper crops, thanks to wonder crop X or pesticide Y.
Yes—but let's have a picture to show the year after, when the rains failed. And while we're at it, let's have a picture of all the farmers who were put out of work because one, for a short time, cornered the market. If you are growing wheat in Lincolnshire to sell to a market that guarantees to buy whatever you grow; or melons in Israel to sell at a high price to Tesco, in greenhouses with computerised drip irrigation that cost a fortune, then of course you need the highest yields you can get. If not, it just isn't an issue. In the real world—the one in which people are starving—security is what matters.
So human history, common sense, and some data suggest that organic farming certainly could feed the world, now and forever: and to a very high standard—we are talking excellent nutrition and cuisine: not finger-nail stuff.
But I wouldn't you to take my word for it—or even Tewolde and Sue's. This really matters, and what the world needs, as a matter of urgency, is a formal study to explore as exhaustively as possible the very question we are asking tonight: Can organic farming feed the world—and if not why not and what would need to be done to ensure that it could. It should also explore all the ramification of such a shift—biological, social, economic, political, spiritual: all that we can think of, that is, for much will arise that we cannot yet anticipate. I have never come across such a study, and for the purposes of this lecture I asked all the best-informed people I know and they don't know of any either. The fact that such a study has not been done is, I suggest, a disgrace.
But in parallel with this grand question—can organic farming feed the world?—we should ask another, of the normative kind: “Should organic farming feed the world?”. To paraphrase David Hume, could is not should.
To round off this talk, let me offer a preliminary answer.
In my book, So Shall We Reap, I first point out the obvious: that the present powers that be—present-day governments, the corporates, and their battalions of economic and scientific advisers—are making a spectacularly poor job of feeding the world. The rawest statistics are that a billion people out of the world population of six billion are undernourished, and sometimes starve; and another billion are too fat or diabetic—the number of diabetics worldwide on present trends will soon exceed the total population of the present-day United States. Already, too, a billion live in slums. But we ain't seen nothing yet. By 2050 on present trends here will be six billion people in cities. Many cities cannot cope even now—even in this country. I have spent many a day in slums in far-flung corners of the world and can attest that in the third world is worse. And there is nothing so bad that global warming cannot screw up even further.
The urban slums, and the poverty and misery that goes with them, again reflect the failure of agriculture. Most people in the slums are disenfranchised farmers, or the children or grandchildren of disenfranchised farmers. They have lost their farms because they cannot “compete” with modern commerce: and in this modern, misguided world, competition is all.
Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, captains of industry, and professors hired by industry, tell us that without their ministrations things would be even worse. As for the apparent deficiencies—well: don't worry. The powers that be are on the case. With more high tech, and the global free market fully up and running, everything will be fine.
WAVE BROCHURE AGAIN
Even the apparent radicals at Gleneagles seem to believe this. Bono and Geldof weren't asking for a change of direction. They just want more of what there is—spread out more fairly. All that's needed, so we are told by the powers-that-be is to clear out other people's cupboards: corruption among African leaders; “backwardness” among traditional farmers; and effete, nostalgic, recalcitrant members of the middle classes who, for example, belong to the Soil Association.
But actually, there is another, much simpler reason for the world's so spectacular failure.
It is—wait for it!:
“Present-day farming fails to feed the world for the irreducibly simple reason that it is not designed to feed people.”
If we did design agriculture to feed people, we could do so easily—not just on chapattis and wall-to-wall lentils, but to the highest standards of nutrition and gastronomy. No more famine: no more epidemics of obesity and all the rest.
While we were at it we would solve the world's other main problems as well: create good, agreeable, stable rural communities; get rid of urban slums; and generally look after the environment—putting an end to the mass extinction of other species that modern ecologists tell us is upon us.
How do you do it? Well, in my book I spell it all out in detail and there isn't time here.
But the essence is to do the thing that generations of western intellectuals—I blame Plato—have been trying to talk us out of for the past several thousand years: Remember that despite our high-fallutin aspirations, our vast intellects and our questing souls, we are, in the end, flesh and blood animals: and the Earth in which we are privileged to live is our habitat, the nest that should not be fouled.
Farming designed truly to feed people must be rooted in sound biology. The form, the structure of farms must reflect that of nature. Lots of plants, not many animals. Tremendous intricacy and attention to detail. Such variety and attention to detail requires a great deal of labour. Farming that really works needs to be labour intensive.
Modern agriculture flouts these principles absolutely. In all the most significant respects it is absolutely at odds with what biological reality requires.
The system as a whole is not designed to feed people. It is designed to generate the greatest possible amount of cash in the shortest possible time in the belief—clearly espoused even by people like Gordon Brown who really should know better—that by doing this we can solve the world's problems, and only by doing this. John Maynard Keynes no less pointed out that there is no simple relationship between GNP and economic wellbeing, but increase in GNP—“economic growth”—is perceived as the ultimate goal, the measure of success, the sine qua non.
The ubiquitous the slogan “Make Poverty History” is a serious dumbing down. It implies that to alleviate the world's miseries it is necessary and sufficient to increase the flow of cash—whereas in fact it is not strictly necessary, and certainly is not sufficient. Even more to the point, the quickest means to earn cash is to invite some foreign company—typically a transnational corporate—to set up camp in your territory. That means autonomy is lost—and autonomy is what “development” ought to be about.
To make the greatest amount of money in the shortest time farmers—or in reality, corporates, for only corporates can really take the heat—have to do the precise opposite of what biology—and common sense—suggest is necessary.
To compete commercially, output must be maximised. On the grand scale, this pushes the whole emphasis towards intensive livestock—the way to get rid of surplus cereals. Just what the world doesn't need. On the smaller scale it produces gluts, the farmers' worst enemy (short of total crop failure), and gluts reduce prices, and so it is that the world price of coffee has fallen five times in the past decade or so. Still farmers are encouraged to grow more coffee—not just in Kenya, Ethiopia, Brazil and Costa Rica where it's traditional, but also these days in Vietnam and East Timor. The farmers who are urged to grow it are on a hiding to nothing—they are selling for less than the cost of production. I have seen the crops dying in Brazil: the price is too low to justify the harvesting. But still, commodity crops and world trade are presented as the great panaceas. It's an ill wind, of course. Those who trade in commodity crops love gluts. The prices go lower and lower. The consumers are said to benefit—“Every little helps”, says Tesco. Well, it doesn't help the world's farmers, on whom, in the end, we really do depend. And I haven't noticed that coffee is any cheaper in Starbucks.
But if farmers go to the wall—which of course they do in vast numbers—then the powers that be have a solution. New industries. In India, 18 months ago, I asked “What new industries?”. Tourism and IT—call centres and computer—same the answer. But in India, as in the third world as a whole, 60 per cent of the people work on the land. Out of a population of one billion, that is 600 million—far greater than the total population of the newly expanded EU. In Africa, with 700 million, that's about 400 million on the land—a third more than the total population of the United States.
In Britain and the US, with their industrialised agriculture, only about one per cent work on the land. If India follows our lead, nearly 600 million will be out of work. The IT industry in Bangalore, the great new future, employs about 60,000 people, most of them graduates. That falls short of what is required by four orders of magnitude—10,000 times. The same applies in Africa, with slightly smaller figures.
Yet Britain is still held up as the model. This is, frankly, ludicrous. Just as a matter of history, although Britain hugely reduced the proportion of people on the land after 1800, we did not reduce total numbers on the land substantially until well into the 20th century, when urban industries had been up and running for nearly two centuries. Then, they sucked workers from the land. To encourage—or indeed force—third world farmers to leave the land before there are any industries even on the horizon that could remotely employ so many, is ludicrous. Either that, or downright wicked.
But let's be realistic. For the foreseeable future there will be no such industries. Let's be even more realistic: there never can be. As Gandhi pointed out, Britain grew rich by drawing resources from all its vast Empire (riches which, of course, we are still living on—for we do precious little these days except sell insurance and cut each others' hair). Who, asked Gandhi rhetorically, will be India's empire? Or Africa's? The answer of course is, “Nobody”. Britain and the west are a one-off. All imitations, even in China, are short-term. As another simple statistic tells us, it would require the resources of three planets Earth to bring everyone to the material standards of the average Brit—and tens times that if we all aspired to be Californian. The entire solar system wouldn't be enough.
So we have two inescapable realities. First, farming that was truly designed to feed people must be rooted in sound biology; and secondly, economic systems that can actually employ people—and unemployment is truly the royal road to destitution—have to be agrarian. Agrarian life at present can be extremely unpleasant. For farmers from South Korea to Wales via New Zealand, suicide has become a serious occupational hazard. But it doesn't have to be like that. The prime task for the present and future world is to make agrarian living agreeable. Biology-based, agrarian societies don't have to be organic. But as near as makes no difference they effectively would be. If I were in charge, I would allow a little artificial nitrogen and a little subtle chemistry just to make life easier—but although these technicalities are used to define organic farming for legal purposes, they are just details. What really matters is the connotations of organic farming: the labour-intensive, intricate husbandry, respecting the biology of plants, animals, and landscape, and indeed the dignity of human beings.
Overall, the world needs a sea-change. It doesn't need literal revolution. The necessary economic changes could and I believe should be made within the broad framework of capitalism—but we need new models of capitalism, far removed from the simplistic global free market. Such models are already being developed, and indeed acted upon.
But the world does need a renaissance—one which, like all initiatives that really count for anything, must begin as a people's movement. Above all it needs farms rooted in biology, mixed and intricate and labour-intensive. Tomorrow's farmers wouldn't have to stick strictly to the present rules of the Soil Association but they would certainly operate within their spirit. Such agrarianism would be totally at odds with modern thinking in high places.
Eve Balfour was the niece of a British Tory prime minister. But she could yet prove to have been more lastingly radical than Mao Tse Tung.
I do hope so. Thank you.