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THE GREEN REVOLUTION

(The Third Agricultural Revolution)


And Biotechnology
THOMAS MALTHUS
19
th
century economist

Believed that because population grows
geometrically and food production
arithmetically famine was inevitable.

Slowing the growth of population was the only
possibility to prevent starvation



History (so far) has proven Malthus wrong . . .
INCREASE IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION PER CAPITA
There are two important
terms to bear in mind here:
Food entitlement deficit (FED) suggests
that food shortages were caused by a lack of
wages/income (rising costs of food relative to
average incomes)

Food availability deficit (FAD) suggests that
food shortages were caused by local
difficulties in supply, perhaps the result of
drought or floods

What is the Green
Revolution
The term Green Revolution refers to the
renovation of agricultural practices
beginning in Mexico in the 1940s.
Because of its success in producing
more agricultural products there, Green
Revolution technologies spread
worldwide in the 1950s and 1960s,
significantly increasing the amount of
calories produced per acre of
agriculture.

The crops developed during the Green
Revolution were high yield varieties -
meaning they were domesticated plants
bred specifically to respond to fertilizers
and produce an increased amount of
grain per acre planted.

GREEN REVOLUTION
Adoption of new,
improved varieties of
grains
Application of better
agricultural techniques
Irrigation
Mechanization
Use of fertilizer
Use of pesticides
Since 1950s
Greatest effect felt in
LDCs
Agricultural output
outpaced population
growth even without
adding additional
cropland
A complex of improvements which greatly
increased agricultural production
WHEAT
Mexico
Egypt
Turkey
RICE
Thailand
Vietnam
Korea
Indonesia
Principal Beneficiaries of the Green Revolution
BOTH
India
China
Pakistan
Golden Rice
THE GREAT YELLOW HOPE
In 1982, the Rockefeller
Foundation funded research
into rice varieties to promote
global health
Nutritionally enhanced rice
Used a daffodil gene
Rice now produces beta-carotene
The body converts beta-carotene
to vitamin A
Blindness in LDCs is caused by
vitamin A deficiencies
Time Magazine declares: This
rice could save a million kids a
year.
Greenpeace acknowledged:
Golden rice is a moral
challenge to our position.

Golden Rice
THE GREAT YELLOW HYPE
An 11 year-old child would need to
eat 15 pounds of golden rice a day
to satisfy the minimum daily
requirement of vitamin A
Conversion of beta-carotene to
vitamin A requires fat and protein in
the diet (these are lacking in LDCs)
Asians may not want to eat golden
rice they prefer white rice over the
more nutrient rich brown rice which
has always existed
Education to push golden rice costs
money why not just hand out
vitamin A?
Golden rice cost more than $100
million to develop it is just a PR
stunt for genetically altered foods
Green Revolution
benefits

Core exports high-yield miracle seeds

Needed oil-based fertilizers, pesticides

Asian rice crop up 66% in 1965-85

Favored areas with good soil, weather

Green Revolution
Green Revolution
drawbacks

Favored farmers who could afford seeds,
inputs, machines, irrigation

Indebted farmers lost land, moved to cities

New monocrops lacked resistance to
disease/pests

Environmental contamination, erosion

Oriented to export cash crops, not domestic
food

Biotechnology:
Using organisms to
Make or modify products

Improve plants or animals

Develop new microorganisms

Crossing natural divides between species
Not just crossbreeding
Genetically Modified
Organisms (GMO)
Consumer concerns
began in Europe,
now in U.S. too
FRANKENFOODS
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
m
i
l
l
i
o
n
s

o
f

a
c
r
e
s
GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS - WORLDWIDE
USA, 68%
Argentina, 23%
Others, 9%
GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS - 2000
Biotechnology
benefits in agriculture
Increase yields

Increase pest resistance

Grow crops in new areas
Biotechnology
drawbacks in agriculture
High costs (available to few)

Monocrops have less tolerance to disease

Possible health effects

Contamination of wild crops (superweeds)

Corporate patents on life forms


Bovine Growth
Hormone (BGH)



Starlink corn






First calf cloned in
Wisconsin, 1997.

Many clones die
of complications.

Ethical and
economic conflicts

San Francisco
Farmers Market

Minneapolis airport
flower stand