Saturday, October 8, 2016

Nuance on the Green Revolution in India

Here is an excellent, succinct article by Raj Patel about the Green Revolution in India.  His thesis is that the impressive increases in Indian grain production in the 1960s and 70s had something to do with increasing yields through better seeds, but a lot more to do with policies and market conditions that encouraged farmers to plant more wheat and farm it more intensively.  The author doesn't aim to discount the importance of plant breeding and new techniques in raising agricultural yields, but simply to remind us that the dumbed-down miracle story we are often fed, of Norman Borlaug breeding a new variety of wheat and thus singlehandedly solving world hunger, is an exaggerated fiction.

Circumstances of food production and hunger are determined by our complex world of politics, social movements, economic changes, and societal values, which are often more important factors than climatic conditions and agronomic innovation are.  When someone tries to sell you a narrative of hunger that hinges only on agricultural productivity and technological [patentable] products, then you can assume they are trying to take advantage of you and push a specific agenda that consciously avoids questions of resource distribution, equity, and justice.

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