Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Green revolution

The Green revolution is a process of technological development of agricultural techniques that began in Mexico in 1944 and has since spread throughout the world. The goal of the Green revolution was to increase the efficiency of agricultural processes so that the productivity of the crops was increased and could help developing countries to face their growing populations needs.

The Green revolution has since started to face strong criticisms (discussed below), and is being replaced in some cases by integrated farming or organic farming techniques.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Technologies
3 Criticisms of the Green revolution
4 See also
5 External links


The Green Revolution began in 1944 when the Rockefeller Foundation founded an institute to improve the agricultural output of Mexican farms. This produced astounding results, so that Mexico went from having to import half its wheat to self-sufficiency by 1956, and by 1964, to exports of half a million tons of wheat.

From there, the technologies were exported abroad, finding use in regions all over the world. The success in increasing yields was undisputable. The growth of crop yields was such that agriculture was now able to outstrip population growth - per capita production increased every year following 1950.

The use of genetic engineering in agriculture to create genetically modified foods is viewed by some as the natural continuation of the Green revolution.


The Green revolution technologies broadly fall into two major categories. The first is the breeding of new plant varieties; the second is the development of new agricultural techniques.

Hybrid strains

Most crops consumed by the public-at-large in industrialized nations are Green revolution crops. The design of hybrid strains (so called because they were created by cross-breeding a broad range of varieties to produce the desired combination of characteristics in a single variety, although random mutagenesis was also used) was motivated by a desire to, first, increase crop yield, and also to increase durability for transport and longevity for storage. Norin 10 wheat is an example of such a strain that helped developing countries, such as India and Pakistan to increase the productivity of their crops. Since then, strains have been bred for better appearance (e.g. plumper tomatoes, straighter, more evenly-colored rows of corn).

Since improved crop yield was produced mostly through the use of heavy fossil fuel inputs (discussed below), the increased efficiency of Green revolution strains is geared towards these inputs; that is, the strains are more efficient at exploiting the chemical fertilizers used, and also are designed to be easier to harvest mechanically.

Agricultural Techniques

The techniques refined and developed by the Green revolution are, roughly:

In recent years, genetic engineering techniques have been used to further enhance some of these Green revolution advances, especially the use of pesticides and herbicides. For example, many commercial crops these days have engineered herbicide tolerances, so that application of more herbicide will eliminate undesirables (weeds) while leaving the crop unaffected.

Criticisms of the Green revolution

The Green revolution has been criticized on several grounds, but the primary argument is environmental. The Green revolution, critics argue, is flawed on several counts:

Finally, there is an important social dimension which must be considered. The Green revolution introduced major changes into a world where the majority of the people still depend on farming for their livelihood. The result of many of these techniques was the encouragement of large-scale industrial agriculture at the expense of small farmers, who were unable to compete with the high-efficiency Green revolution crops. The result has been massive displacement and increasing urbanization and poverty amongst these farmers, and the loss of their land to large agricultural companies, who are much more able to manage the considerable enterprise involved in effectively exploiting Green revolution techniques. This may be not unlike the Luddites complaints about the Industrial Revolution.

The Green Revolution in agriculture helped food production to keep pace with population growth. Many people believe a second Green Revolution is likely to take place, and should focus on the food crops grown by the 2 billions of people lacking food security.

See also

External links

[1] " class="external">

[2] " class="external">

[3] Shiva, Vandana. "Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply", South End Press 2000