Green Revolution
Overview
 
Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfer
Technology transfer
Technology Transfer, also called Transfer of Technology and Technology Commercialisation, is the process of skill transferring, knowledge, technologies, methods of manufacturing, samples of manufacturing and facilities among governments or universities and other institutions to ensure that...

 initiatives, occurring between the 1940s and the late 1970s, that increased agriculture production around the world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s.

The initiatives, led by Norman Borlaug
Norman Borlaug
Norman Ernest Borlaug was an American agronomist, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate who has been called "the father of the Green Revolution". Borlaug was one of only six people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal...

, the "Father of the Green Revolution" credited with saving over a billion people from starvation, involved the development of high-yielding varieties of cereal grains, expansion of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of management techniques, distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

s, and pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

s to farmers.

The term "Green Revolution" was first used in 1968 by former United States Agency for International Development
United States Agency for International Development
The United States Agency for International Development is the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid. President John F. Kennedy created USAID in 1961 by executive order to implement development assistance programs in the areas...

 (USAID) director William Gaud
William Gaud
William S. Gaud was appointed Executive Vice President of IFC on October 1, 1969. Prior to his joining the Corporation, he had been administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development...

, who noted the spread of the new technologies and said,

"These and other developments in the field of agriculture contain the makings of a new revolution.
Encyclopedia
Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfer
Technology transfer
Technology Transfer, also called Transfer of Technology and Technology Commercialisation, is the process of skill transferring, knowledge, technologies, methods of manufacturing, samples of manufacturing and facilities among governments or universities and other institutions to ensure that...

 initiatives, occurring between the 1940s and the late 1970s, that increased agriculture production around the world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s.

The initiatives, led by Norman Borlaug
Norman Borlaug
Norman Ernest Borlaug was an American agronomist, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate who has been called "the father of the Green Revolution". Borlaug was one of only six people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal...

, the "Father of the Green Revolution" credited with saving over a billion people from starvation, involved the development of high-yielding varieties of cereal grains, expansion of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of management techniques, distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

s, and pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

s to farmers.

The term "Green Revolution" was first used in 1968 by former United States Agency for International Development
United States Agency for International Development
The United States Agency for International Development is the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid. President John F. Kennedy created USAID in 1961 by executive order to implement development assistance programs in the areas...

 (USAID) director William Gaud
William Gaud
William S. Gaud was appointed Executive Vice President of IFC on October 1, 1969. Prior to his joining the Corporation, he had been administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development...

, who noted the spread of the new technologies and said,

"These and other developments in the field of agriculture contain the makings of a new revolution. It is not a violent Red Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 like that of the Soviets, nor is it a White Revolution
White Revolution
The White Revolution was a far-reaching series of reforms in Iran launched in 1963 by the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Shah’s reform program was built especially to strengthen those classes that supported the traditional system...

 like that of the Shah of Iran
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

. I call it the Green Revolution."

History

The agricultural development that began in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 by Norman Borlaug
Norman Borlaug
Norman Ernest Borlaug was an American agronomist, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate who has been called "the father of the Green Revolution". Borlaug was one of only six people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal...

 in 1943 (based on Nazareno Strampelli
Nazareno Strampelli
Nazareno Strampelli was an Italian agronomist and plant breeder. He was the forerunner of the so called green revolution....

's studies) had been judged as a success and the Rockefeller Foundation
Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation is a prominent philanthropic organization and private foundation based at 420 Fifth Avenue, New York City. The preeminent institution established by the six-generation Rockefeller family, it was founded by John D. Rockefeller , along with his son John D. Rockefeller, Jr...

 sought to spread it to other nations. The Office of Special Studies in Mexico became an informal international research institution in 1959, and in 1963 it formally became CIMMYT, The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.

In 1961 India was on the brink of mass famine. Borlaug was invited to India by the adviser to the Indian minister of agriculture M. S. Swaminathan
M. S. Swaminathan
Maankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan is an Indian agriculture scientist in Kuttanad, kerala. He was the second of four sons of a doctor.He is known as the "Father of the Green Revolution in India", for his leadership and success in introducing and further developing high-yielding varieties of wheat in...

. Despite bureaucratic hurdles imposed by India's grain monopolies, the Ford Foundation
Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is a private foundation incorporated in Michigan and based in New York City created to fund programs that were chartered in 1936 by Edsel Ford and Henry Ford....

 and Indian government collaborated to import wheat seed from CIMMYT. Punjab
Punjab (India)
Punjab ) is a state in the northwest of the Republic of India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The state is bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast and Rajasthan to the southwest as well as the Pakistani province of Punjab to the...

 was selected by the Indian government to be the first site to try the new crops because of its reliable water supply and a history of agricultural success. India began its own Green Revolution program of plant breeding, irrigation development, and financing of agrochemicals.

India soon adopted IR8 – a semi-dwarf rice variety developed by the International Rice Research Institute
International Rice Research Institute
The International Rice Research Institute is an international NGO. Its headquarters are in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines, and it has offices in sixteen countries...

 (IRRI) that could produce more grains of rice per plant when grown with certain fertilizers and irrigation. In 1968, Indian agronomist S.K. De Datta published his findings that IR8 rice yielded about 5 tons per hectare with no fertilizer, and almost 10 tons per hectare under optimal conditions. This was 10 times the yield of traditional rice. IR8 was a success throughout Asia, and dubbed the "Miracle Rice". IR8 was also developed into Semi-dwarf IR36
Semi-dwarf IR36
Semi-dwarf IR36 is a rice variety developed by Gurdev Khush.-History:By cross-breeding IR8 with 13 parent varieties from six nations, Dr. Khush developed IR36, a semi-dwarf variety that proved highly resistant to a number of the major insect pests and diseases that drove down farmers’ rice yields...

.

In the 1960s, rice yields in India were about two tons per hectare; by the mid-1990s, they had risen to six tons per hectare. In the 1970s, rice cost about $550 a ton; in 2001, it cost under $200 a ton. India became one of the world's most successful rice producers, and is now a major rice exporter, shipping nearly 4.5 million tons in 2006.

IR8 and the Philippines

In 1960, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 with Ford and Rockefeller Foundations established IRRI (International Rice Research Institute). A rice crossing between Dee-Geo-woo-gen and Peta was done at IRRI in 1962. In 1966, one of the breeding lines became a new cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

, IR8. IR8 required the use of fertilizers and pesticides, but produced substantially higher yields than the traditional cultivars. Annual rice production in the Philippines increased from 3.7 to 7.7 million tons in two decades. The switch to IR8 rice made the Philippines a rice exporter for the first time in the 20th century. But the heavy pesticide use reduced the number of fish and frog species found in rice paddies.

CGIAR

In 1970, foundation officials proposed a worldwide network of agricultural research centers under a permanent secretariat. This was further supported and developed by the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

; on 19 May 1971, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
The CGIAR is a strategic alliance that unites organizations involved in agricultural research for sustainable development with the donors that fund such work. These donors include governments of developing and industrialized countries, foundations and international and regional organizations...

 was established, co-sponsored by the FAO, IFAD and UNDP. CGIAR, has added many research centers throughout the world.

CGIAR has responded, at least in part, to criticisms of Green Revolution methodologies. This began in the 1980s, and mainly was a result of pressure from donor organizations. Methods like Agroecosystem Analysis and Farming System Research have been adopted to gain a more holistic view of agriculture. Methods like Rapid Rural Appraisal and Participatory Rural Appraisal have been adopted to help scientists understand the problems faced by farmers and even give farmers a role in the development process.

Problems in Africa

There have been numerous attempts to introduce the successful concepts from the Mexican and Indian projects into Africa. These programs have generally been less successful. Reasons cited include widespread corruption, insecurity, a lack of infrastructure, and a general lack of will on the part of the governments. Yet environmental factors, such as the availability of water for irrigation, the high diversity in slope and soil types in one given area are also reasons why the Green Revolution is not so successful in Africa.

A recent program in western Africa is attempting to introduce a new high-yield variety of rice known as "New Rice for Africa
New Rice for Africa
New Rice for Africa is an interspecific cultivar of rice developed by the Africa Rice Center to improve the yield of African rice varieties. Although 240 million people in West Africa rely on rice as the primary source of food energy and protein in their diet, the majority of this rice is...

" (NERICA). NERICAs yield about 30% more rice under normal conditions, and can double yields with small amounts of fertilizer and very basic irrigation. However the program has been beset by problems getting the rice into the hands of farmers, and to date the only success has been in Guinea
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

 where it currently accounts for 16% of rice cultivation.

After a famine in 2001 and years of chronic hunger and poverty, in 2005 the small African country of Malawi
Malawi
The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Its size...

 launched the Agricultural Input Subsidy Program by which vouchers are given to smallholder farmers to buy subsidized nitrogen fertilizer and maize seeds. Within its first year, the program was reported with extreme success, producing the largest maize harvest of the country's history; enough to feed the country with tons of maize left over. The program has advanced yearly ever since. Various sources claim that the program has been an unusual success, hailing it as a "miracle".

Technologies

The Green Revolution spread technologies that had already existed before, but had not been widely used outside industrialized nations. These technologies included modern irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

 projects, pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

s, synthetic nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

 and improved crop varieties developed through the conventional, science-based methods available at the time.

The novel technological development of the Green Revolution was the production of novel wheat cultivars. Agronomist
Agronomist
An agronomist is a scientist who specializes in agronomy, which is the science of utilizing plants for food, fuel, feed, and fiber. An agronomist is an expert in agricultural and allied sciences, with the exception veterinary sciences.Agronomists deal with interactions between plants, soils, and...

s bred
Plant breeding
Plant breeding is the art and science of changing the genetics of plants in order to produce desired characteristics. Plant breeding can be accomplished through many different techniques ranging from simply selecting plants with desirable characteristics for propagation, to more complex molecular...

 cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s of maize, wheat, and rice that are generally referred to as HYVs or “high-yielding varieties”. HYVs have higher nitrogen-absorbing potential than other varieties. Since cereals that absorbed extra nitrogen would typically lodge, or fall over before harvest, semi-dwarfing gene
Gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

s were bred into their genome
Genome
In modern molecular biology and genetics, the genome is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information. It is encoded either in DNA or, for many types of virus, in RNA. The genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA/RNA....

s. A Japanese dwarf wheat cultivar (Norin 10 wheat
Norin 10 wheat
Wheat Norin 10 is a semi-dwarf cultivar of wheat, with very large ears, which was bred in the experimental station of Iwate Prefecture, Japan. In 1935, it was registered as a numbered cultivar by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry...

), which was sent to Washington, D.C. by Cecil Salmon
Cecil Salmon
Samuel Cecil Salmon was an agronomist who was attached to the American occupying forces in Japan after World War II. He worked for the Agricultural Research Service and during his time in Japan, Salmon collected wheat samples and found a dwarf strain which came to be called Norin 10 and which...

, was instrumental in developing Green Revolution wheat cultivars. IR8, the first widely implemented HYV rice to be developed by IRRI, was created through a cross between an Indonesian variety named “Peta” and a Chinese variety named “Dee-geo-woo-gen.”

With advances in molecular genetics
Molecular genetics
Molecular genetics is the field of biology and genetics that studies the structure and function of genes at a molecular level. The field studies how the genes are transferred from generation to generation. Molecular genetics employs the methods of genetics and molecular biology...

, the mutant
Mutant
In biology and especially genetics, a mutant is an individual, organism, or new genetic character, arising or resulting from an instance of mutation, which is a base-pair sequence change within the DNA of a gene or chromosome of an organism resulting in the creation of a new character or trait not...

 genes
Gênes
Gênes is the name of a département of the First French Empire in present Italy, named after the city of Genoa. It was formed in 1805, when Napoleon Bonaparte occupied the Republic of Genoa. Its capital was Genoa, and it was divided in the arrondissements of Genoa, Bobbio, Novi Ligure, Tortona and...

 responsible for Arabidopsis thaliana
Arabidopsis thaliana
Arabidopsis thaliana is a small flowering plant native to Europe, Asia, and northwestern Africa. A spring annual with a relatively short life cycle, arabidopsis is popular as a model organism in plant biology and genetics...

genes (GA 20-oxidase, ga1, ga1-3), wheat reduced-height genes (Rht) and a rice semidwarf gene (sd1) were cloned. These were identified as gibberellin
Gibberellin
Gibberellins are plant hormones that regulate growth and influence various developmental processes, including stem elongation, germination, dormancy, flowering, sex expression, enzyme induction, and leaf and fruit senescence....

 biosynthesis
Biosynthesis
Biosynthesis is an enzyme-catalyzed process in cells of living organisms by which substrates are converted to more complex products. The biosynthesis process often consists of several enzymatic steps in which the product of one step is used as substrate in the following step...

 genes or cellular signaling
Cell signaling
Cell signaling is part of a complex system of communication that governs basic cellular activities and coordinates cell actions. The ability of cells to perceive and correctly respond to their microenvironment is the basis of development, tissue repair, and immunity as well as normal tissue...

 component genes. Stem
Plant stem
A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes, the nodes hold buds which grow into one or more leaves, inflorescence , conifer cones, roots, other stems etc. The internodes distance one node from another...

 growth in the mutant background is significantly reduced leading to the dwarf phenotype
Phenotype
A phenotype is an organism's observable characteristics or traits: such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, behavior, and products of behavior...

. Photosynthetic investment in the stem is reduced dramatically as the shorter plants are inherently more stable mechanically. Assimilates become redirected to grain production, amplifying in particular the effect of chemical fertilizers on commercial yield.

HYVs significantly outperform traditional varieties in the presence of adequate irrigation, pesticides, and fertilizers. In the absence of these inputs, traditional varieties may outperform HYVs. Therefore, several authors have challenged the apparent superiority of HYVs not only compared to the traditional varieties alone, but by contrasting the monocultural system associated with HYVs with the polycultural system associated with traditional ones.

Production increases

Cereal production more than doubled in developing nations between the years 1961–1985. Yields of rice, maize, and wheat increased steadily during that period. The production increases can be attributed roughly equally to irrigation, fertilizer, and seed development, at least in the case of Asian rice.

While agricultural output increased as a result of the Green Revolution, the energy input to produce a crop has increased faster, so that the ratio of crops produced to energy input has decreased over time. Green Revolution techniques also heavily rely on chemical fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

s, pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

s and herbicide
Herbicide
Herbicides, also commonly known as weedkillers, are pesticides used to kill unwanted plants. Selective herbicides kill specific targets while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed. Some of these act by interfering with the growth of the weed and are often synthetic "imitations" of plant...

s, some of which must be developed from fossil fuels, making agriculture increasingly reliant on petroleum products. Proponents of the Peak Oil
Peak oil
Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. This concept is based on the observed production rates of individual oil wells, projected reserves and the combined production rate of a field...

 theory fear that a future decline in oil and gas production would lead to a decline in food production or even a Malthusian catastrophe
Malthusian catastrophe
A Malthusian catastrophe was originally foreseen to be a forced return to subsistence-level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production...

.

Effects on food security

The effects of the Green Revolution on global food security
Food security
Food security refers to the availability of food and one's access to it. A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. According to the World Resources Institute, global per capita food production has been increasing substantially for the past...

 are difficult to assess because of the complexities involved in food systems.

The world population
World population
The world population is the total number of living humans on the planet Earth. As of today, it is estimated to be  billion by the United States Census Bureau...

 has grown by about four billion since the beginning of the Green Revolution and many believe that, without the Revolution, there would have been greater famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 and malnutrition
Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess , or in the wrong proportions....

. India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 saw annual wheat production rise from 10 million tons in the 1960s to 73 million in 2006. The average person in the developing world consumes roughly 25% more calories per day now than before the Green Revolution. Between 1950 and 1984, as the Green Revolution transformed agriculture around the globe, world grain production increased by over 250%.

The production increases fostered by the Green Revolution are often credited with having helped to avoid widespread famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

, and for feeding billions of people.

There are also claims that the Green Revolution has decreased food security for a large number of people. One claim involves the shift of subsistence-oriented cropland to cropland oriented towards production of grain for export or animal feed. For example, the Green Revolution replaced much of the land used for pulses
Pulse (legume)
A pulse is an annual leguminous crop yielding from one to twelve seeds of variable size, shape, and color within a pod. Pulses are used for food and animal feed. The term "pulse", as used by the Food and Agricultural Organization , is reserved for crops harvested solely for the dry seed...

 that fed Indian peasants for wheat, which did not make up a large portion of the peasant diet.

Malthusian criticism

Some criticisms generally involve some variation of the Malthusian principle of population. Such concerns often revolve around the idea that the Green Revolution is unsustainable, and argue that humanity is now in a state of overpopulation
Overpopulation
Overpopulation is a condition where an organism's numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. The term often refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth...

 with regards to the sustainable carrying capacity and ecological demands
Ecological footprint
The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth's ecosystems. It is a standardized measure of demand for natural capital that may be contrasted with the planet's ecological capacity to regenerate. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to...

 on the Earth.

Although 36 million people die each year as a direct or indirect result of hunger and poor nutrition, Malthus' more extreme predictions have frequently failed to materialize. In 1798 Thomas Malthus made his prediction of impending famine. The world's population had doubled by 1923 and doubled again by 1973 without fulfilling Malthus' prediction. Malthusian Paul R. Ehrlich
Paul R. Ehrlich
Paul Ralph Ehrlich is an American biologist and educator who is the Bing Professor of Population Studies in the department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University and president of Stanford's Center for Conservation Biology. By training he is an entomologist specializing in Lepidoptera , but...

, in his 1968 book The Population Bomb
The Population Bomb
The Population Bomb was a best-selling book written by Paul R. Ehrlich and his wife, Anne Ehrlich , in 1968. It warned of the mass starvation of humans in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation, as well as other major societal upheavals, and advocated immediate action to limit population growth...

, said that "India couldn't possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980" and "Hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs." Ehrlich's warnings failed to materialize when India became self-sustaining in cereal production in 1974 (six years later) as a result of the introduction of Norman Borlaug
Norman Borlaug
Norman Ernest Borlaug was an American agronomist, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate who has been called "the father of the Green Revolution". Borlaug was one of only six people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal...

's dwarf wheat varieties.

Since supplies of oil and gas are essential to modern agriculture techniques, a fall in global oil supplies
Peak oil
Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. This concept is based on the observed production rates of individual oil wells, projected reserves and the combined production rate of a field...

 could cause spiking food prices in the coming decades.

Famine

To some modern Western sociologists and writers, increasing food production is not synonymous with increasing food security, and is only part of a larger equation. For example, Harvard professor Amartya Sen
Amartya Sen
Amartya Sen, CH is an Indian economist who was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to welfare economics and social choice theory, and for his interest in the problems of society's poorest members...

 claimed large historic famines were not caused by decreases in food supply, but by socioeconomic dynamics and a failure of public action. However, economist Peter Bowbrick disputes Sen's theory, arguing that Sen relies on inconsistent arguments and contradicts available information, including sources that Sen himself cited. Bowbrick further argues that Sen's views coincide with that of the Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 government at the time of the Bengal famine of 1943
Bengal famine of 1943
The Bengal famine of 1943 struck the Bengal. Province of pre-partition India. Estimates are that between 1.5 and 4 million people died of starvation, malnutrition and disease, out of Bengal’s 60.3 million population, half of them dying from disease after food became available in December 1943 As...

, and the policies Sen advocates failed to relieve the famine.

Quality of diet

Some have challenged the value of the increased food production of Green Revolution agriculture. Miguel A. Altieri
Miguel Altieri
Miguel Altieri is a Professor of Agroecology at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. He received a BS in Agronomy from the University of Chile and holds a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Florida.He teaches courses in...

, (a pioneer of agroecology and peasant-advocate), writes that the comparison between traditional systems of agriculture and Green Revolution agriculture has been unfair, because Green Revolution agriculture produces monocultures of cereal grains, while traditional agriculture usually incorporates polyculture
Polyculture
Polyculture is agriculture using multiple crops in the same space, in imitation of the diversity of natural ecosystems, and avoiding large stands of single crops, or monoculture...

s.

These monoculture crops are often used for export, feed for animals, or conversion into biofuel. According to Emile Frison of Bioversity International
Bioversity International
Bioversity International is one of 15 agricultural research centres supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research . It is dedicated to the conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity to improve the livelihoods of poor people. The organization is highly...

, the Green Revolution has also led to a change in dietary habits, as fewer people are affected by hunger and die from starvation, but many are affected by malnutrition
Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess , or in the wrong proportions....

 such as iron or vitamin-A deficiencies
Vitamin A deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency is a lack of vitamin A in humans. It is common in developing countries but rarely seen in developed countries. Night blindness is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency. Xerophthalmia and complete blindness can also occur since Vitamin A has a major role in...

. Frison further asserts that almost 60% of yearly deaths of children under age five in developing countries are related to malnutrition.

High-yield rice (HYR), introduced since 1964 to poverty-ridden Asian countries, such as the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, was found to have inferior flavor and be more glutinous and less savory than their native varieties. This caused its price to be lower than the average market value.

In the Philippines the introduction of heavy pesticides to rice production, in the early part of the Green Revolution, poisoned and killed off fish and weedy green vegetables that traditionally coexisted in rice paddies. These were nutritious food sources for many poor Filipino farmers prior to the introduction of pesticides, further impacting the diets of locals.

Political impact

A major critic of the Green Revolution, U.S. investigative journalist Mark Dowie, writes:

The primary objective of the program was geopolitical: to provide food for the populace in undeveloped countries and so bring social stability and weaken the fomenting of communist insurgency.


Citing internal Foundation documents, Dowie states that the Ford Foundation had a greater concern than Rockefeller in this area.

There is significant evidence that the Green Revolution weakened socialist movements in many nations. In countries such as India, Mexico, and the Philippines, technological solutions were sought as an alternative to expanding agrarian reform
Agrarian reform
Agrarian reform can refer either, narrowly, to government-initiated or government-backed redistribution of agricultural land or, broadly, to an overall redirection of the agrarian system of the country, which often includes land reform measures. Agrarian reform can include credit measures,...

initiatives, the latter of which were often linked to socialist politics.

Socioeconomic impacts

The transition from traditional agriculture, in which inputs were generated on-farm, to Green Revolution agriculture, which required the purchase of inputs, led to the widespread establishment of rural credit institutions. Smaller farmers often went into debt
Debt
A debt is an obligation owed by one party to a second party, the creditor; usually this refers to assets granted by the creditor to the debtor, but the term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value.A debt is created when a...

, which in many cases results in a loss of their farmland. The increased level of mechanization on larger farms made possible by the Green Revolution removed a large source of employment from the rural economy. Because wealthier farmers had better access to credit and land, the Green Revolution increased class disparities. The rich–poor gap widened due to that. Because some regions were able to adopt Green Revolution agriculture more readily than others (for political or geographical reasons), interregional economic disparities increased as well. Many small farmers are hurt by the dropping prices resulting from increased production overall. However, large-scale farming companies only account for less than 10% of the total farming capacity.

The new economic difficulties of small holder farmers and landless farm workers led to increased rural-urban migration
Urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

. The increase in food production led to a cheaper food for urban dwellers, and the increase in urban population increased the potential for industrialization.

Globalization

In the most basic sense, the Green Revolution was a product of globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

 as evidenced in the creation of international agricultural research centers that shared information, and with transnational funding from groups like the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, and United States Agency for International Development
United States Agency for International Development
The United States Agency for International Development is the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid. President John F. Kennedy created USAID in 1961 by executive order to implement development assistance programs in the areas...

 (USAID). Additionally, the inputs required in Green Revolution agriculture created new markets for seed and chemical corporations, many of which were based in the United States. For example, Standard Oil of New Jersey
Exxon
Exxon is a chain of gas stations as well as a brand of motor fuel and related products by ExxonMobil. From 1972 to 1999, Exxon was the corporate name of the company previously known as Standard Oil Company of New Jersey or Jersey Standard....

 established hundreds of distributors in the Philippines to sell agricultural packages composed of HYV seed, fertilizer, and pesticides.

Environmental impact

Pesticides

Green Revolution agriculture relies on extensive use of pesticides, which are necessary to limit the high levels of pest damage that inevitably occur in monocropping – the practice of producing or growing one single crop over a wide area.

Biodiversity

The spread of Green Revolution agriculture affected both agricultural biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

 and wild biodiversity. There is little disagreement that the Green Revolution acted to reduce agricultural biodiversity, as it relied on just a few high-yield varieties of each crop.

This has led to concerns about the susceptibility of a food supply to pathogens that cannot be controlled by agrochemicals, as well as the permanent loss of many valuable genetic traits bred into traditional varieties over thousands of years. To address these concerns, massive seed banks such as Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
The CGIAR is a strategic alliance that unites organizations involved in agricultural research for sustainable development with the donors that fund such work. These donors include governments of developing and industrialized countries, foundations and international and regional organizations...

’s (CGIAR) International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (now Bioversity International
Bioversity International
Bioversity International is one of 15 agricultural research centres supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research . It is dedicated to the conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity to improve the livelihoods of poor people. The organization is highly...

) have been established (see Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seedbank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near the town of Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, about from the North Pole. The facility preserves a wide variety of plant seeds in an underground cavern. The seeds are...

).

There are varying opinions about the effect of the Green Revolution on wild biodiversity. One hypothesis speculates that by increasing production per unit of land area, agriculture will not need to expand into new, uncultivated areas to feed a growing human population. However, land degradation and soil nutrients depletion have forced farmers to clear up formerly forested areas in order to keep up with production. A counter-hypothesis speculates that biodiversity was sacrificed because traditional systems of agriculture that were displaced sometimes incorporated practices to preserve wild biodiversity, and because the Green Revolution expanded agricultural development into new areas where it was once unprofitable or too arid. For example, the development of wheat varieties tolerant to acid soil conditions with high aluminium content, permitted the introduction of agriculture in the Amazonian
Amazon Basin
The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries that drains an area of about , or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela...

 cerrado
Cerrado
The Cerrado, is a vast tropical savanna ecoregion of Brazil, particularly in the states of Gioas and Minas Gerais...

 ecosystem in Brazil.

Nevertheless, the world community has clearly acknowledged the negative aspects of agricultural expansion as the 1992 Rio Treaty, signed by 189 nations, has generated numerous national Biodiversity Action Plans which assign significant biodiversity loss to agriculture's expansion into new domains.

Health impact

The consumption of the pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

s used to kill pests by humans in some cases may be increasing the likelihood of cancer in some of the rural villages using them. Poor farming practices including non-compliance to usage of masks and over-usage of the chemicals compound this situation. In 1989, WHO and UNEP estimated that there were around 1 million human pesticide poisonings annually. Some 20,000 (mostly in developing countries) ended in death, as a result of poor labeling, loose safety standards etc.

Pesticides and cancer

Long term exposure to pesticides such as organochlorines, creosote
Creosote
Creosote is the portion of chemical products obtained by the distillation of a tar that remains heavier than water, notably useful for its anti-septic and preservative properties...

, and sulfate
Sulfate
In inorganic chemistry, a sulfate is a salt of sulfuric acid.-Chemical properties:...

 have been correlated with higher cancer rates and organochlorines DDT
DDT
DDT is one of the most well-known synthetic insecticides. It is a chemical with a long, unique, and controversial history....

, chlordane
Chlordane
Chlordane, or chlordan, is an organochlorine compound that was used as a pesticide. This white solid was sold in the U.S. until 1983 as an insecticide for crops like corn and citrus and on lawns and domestic gardens.-Production and uses:...

, and lindane
Lindane
Lindane, also known as gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane, , gammaxene, Gammallin and erroneously known as benzene hexachloride , is an organochlorine chemical variant of hexachlorocyclohexane that has been used both as an agricultural insecticide and as a pharmaceutical treatment for lice and...

 as tumor promoters in animals. Contradictory epidemiologic studies in humans have linked phenoxy acid herbicides or contaminants in them with soft tissue sarcoma
Soft tissue sarcoma
A soft-tissue sarcoma is a form of sarcoma that develops in connective tissue, though the term is sometimes applied to elements of the soft tissue that are not currently considered connective tissue.-Risk factors:...

 (STS) and malignant lymphoma
Lymphoma
Lymphoma is a cancer in the lymphatic cells of the immune system. Typically, lymphomas present as a solid tumor of lymphoid cells. Treatment might involve chemotherapy and in some cases radiotherapy and/or bone marrow transplantation, and can be curable depending on the histology, type, and stage...

, organochlorine insecticides with STS, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), leukemia
Leukemia
Leukemia or leukaemia is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called "blasts". Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases...

, and, less consistently, with cancers of the lung
Lung cancer
Lung cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. If left untreated, this growth can spread beyond the lung in a process called metastasis into nearby tissue and, eventually, into other parts of the body. Most cancers that start in lung, known as primary...

 and breast
Breast cancer
Breast cancer is cancer originating from breast tissue, most commonly from the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply the ducts with milk. Cancers originating from ducts are known as ductal carcinomas; those originating from lobules are known as lobular carcinomas...

, organophosphorous compounds with NHL and leukemia, and triazine herbicides with ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer is a cancerous growth arising from the ovary. Symptoms are frequently very subtle early on and may include: bloating, pelvic pain, difficulty eating and frequent urination, and are easily confused with other illnesses....

.

Punjab case

The Indian state of Punjab
Punjab (India)
Punjab ) is a state in the northwest of the Republic of India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The state is bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast and Rajasthan to the southwest as well as the Pakistani province of Punjab to the...

 pioneered green revolution among the other states transforming India into a food-surplus country. The state is witnessing serious consequences of intensive farming using chemicals and pesticide. A comprehensive study conducted by Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research
Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research
Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research is one of the most prestigious medical and research institutions of Asia. Located in Chandigarh, India, it is globally recognized for its quality education, medical research and training facilities as well as for the excellence of its...

 (PGIMER) has underlined the direct relationship between indiscriminate use of these chemicals and increased incidence of cancer in this region. An increase in the number of cancer cases has been reported in several villages including Jhariwala, Koharwala, Puckka, Bhimawali, and Khara.

Environmental activist Vandana Shiva
Vandana Shiva
Vandana Shiva , is a philosopher, environmental activist, and eco feminist. Shiva, currently based in Delhi, has authored more than 20 books and over 500 papers in leading scientific and technical journals. She was trained as a physicist and received her Ph.D...

 has written extensively about the social, political and economic impacts of the Green Revolution in Punjab. She claims that the Green Revolution's reliance on heavy use of chemical inputs and monocultures has resulted in water scarcity, vulnerability to pests, and incidence of violent conflict and social marginalization.

In 2009, under a Greenpeace
Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

 Research Laboratories investigation, Dr Reyes Tirado, from the University of Exeter
University of Exeter
The University of Exeter is a public university in South West England. It belongs to the 1994 Group, an association of 19 of the United Kingdom's smaller research-intensive universities....

, UK conducted the study in 50 villages in Muktsar
Muktsar
Sri Muktsar Sahib is a city and a municipal council in Sri Muktsar Sahib district in the Indian state of Punjab. Sri Muktsar Sahib's historical name was Khidrane dee dhab .-Demographics: India census, Sri Muktsar Sahib has a population of 3,96,030...

, Bathinda and Ludhiana district
Ludhiana District
-Rainfall:The rainfall in the district increases from the southwest toward the northeast. About 70% of the rainfall is received during the period of July through September...

s revealed chemical, radiation and biological toxicity rampant in Punjab. Twenty percent of the sampled wells showed nitrate levels above the safety limit of 50 mg/l, established by WHO, the study connected it with high use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

s. With increasing poisoning of the soil, the region once hailed as the home to the Green Revolution
Green Revolution in India
The introduction of high-yielding varieties of seeds and the increased use of fertilizers and irrigation are known collectively as the Green Revolution, which provided the increase in production needed to make India self-sufficient in food grains, thus improving agriculture in India...

, now due to excessive use of chemical fertilizer, is being termed by one columnist as the "Other Bhopal".

Organic farming

About four decades after the Green Revolution widely helped the world to be able to produce food in sufficient levels, a small percentage of farmers in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 have chosen to employ organic farming
Organic farming
Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm...

 methods in response to side effects from their adoption of modern agriculture
Industrial agriculture
Industrial farming is a form of modern farming that refers to the industrialized production of livestock, poultry, fish, and crops. The methods of industrial agriculture are technoscientific, economic, and political...

 techniques.

Norman Borlaug's response to criticism

He dismissed certain claims of critics, but did take other concerns seriously and stated that his work has been:

"a change in the right direction, but it has not transformed the world into a Utopia".


Of environmental lobbyists he said:

"some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

...If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things".

See also

  • British Agricultural Revolution
    British Agricultural Revolution
    British Agricultural Revolution describes a period of development in Britain between the 17th century and the end of the 19th century, which saw an epoch-making increase in agricultural productivity and net output. This in turn supported unprecedented population growth, freeing up a significant...

  • Environmental issues with agriculture
    Environmental issues with agriculture
    The environmental impact of agriculture varies based on the wide variety of agricultural practices employed around the world.-Climate change:Climate change and agriculture are interrelated processes, both of which take place on a global scale...

  • Food security
    Food security
    Food security refers to the availability of food and one's access to it. A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. According to the World Resources Institute, global per capita food production has been increasing substantially for the past...

  • Genetic pollution
    Genetic pollution
    Genetic pollution is a controversial term for uncontrolled gene flow into wild populations. This gene flow is undesirable according to some environmentalists and conservationists, including groups such as Greenpeace, TRAFFIC, and GeneWatch UK.-Usage:...

  • Industrial agriculture
    Industrial agriculture
    Industrial farming is a form of modern farming that refers to the industrialized production of livestock, poultry, fish, and crops. The methods of industrial agriculture are technoscientific, economic, and political...

  • Arab Agricultural Revolution
  • Neolithic Revolution
    Neolithic Revolution
    The Neolithic Revolution was the first agricultural revolution. It was the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and settlement. Archaeological data indicates that various forms of plants and animal domestication evolved independently in 6 separate locations worldwide circa...


External links

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