Green Revolution

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The Green Revolution was an effort during the 1940's through the 1970's to increase world food production, particularly in poor countries such as Mexico, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines, through crop breeding and increased use of fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation. While the Green Revolution led to increased food production, some criticize it for creating social, economic, and environmental problems. A rise in world hunger in 2008 recently spurred some to call for a Second Green Revolution.

Mark Dowie summed up the results of Green Revolution as follows:[1]

"On any list of the greatest grants - Philanthropy at its Best, the Triumphs of American Grantmaking, Ten Grants That Changed the World - the Green Revolution would rank in the top five. That ranking - if its social and ecological consequences are ignored - is well deserved. Although hunger has not been ended by the revolution, it has been reduced; enough food is now produced, year after year, to feed the world - with some to spare.
"However, for reasons officers, trustees, and scientists of the Rockefeller Foundation did not foresee, and later ignored, there are still about 800 million hungry people in the world and 185 million seriously malnourished preschool children."

Another analysis of the Green Revolution notes "the dominance of modern science as we know it today and its ideological role in legitimating and therefore contributing towards reproducing the social status quo."[2]

Early History: The Mexican Agricultural Program

What would later be called the Green Revolution began as the Mexican Agricultural Program (MAP), which was started by the Rockefeller Foundation at the suggestion of then U.S. Vice President Henry A. Wallace in early 1941.[3] Wallace suggested Mexico needed "greater agricultural production."[4] MAP was a joint effort by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican government for two decades, during the 1940's and 1950's. The program set up research stations around Mexico for corn, wheat, sorghum, barley, livestock, beans, potatoes, and feed grains. Of these crops, only corn and beans were a major staple in Mexican diets. For more information, see the article on the Mexican Agricultural Program.


In 1970, Dr. Gunnar Myrdal, a Swedish economist and social scientist, said:

"Measures to improve yields in agriculture in underdeveloped countries will not be effective without radical reforms [chiefly redistribution of land ownership and tenancy," he said, yet "even the discussion of land reform has been toned down and has almost disappeared from agricultural planning."
"A bigger problem, he continued, is that in underdeveloped countries - where the farm population runs as high as 70 per cent - the introduction of labor-saving technology to spur crop production would greatly increase unemployment and thereby aggravate poverty and malnutrition.
"Even foreign aid, by obviating increased local agricultural production, he said, "could make political, social and economic conditions still more precarious and indeed, unbearable."
"The solution, he suggested, is for such countries to promote high-yield agriculture that would also require much man-power, adding that in India, for one, "It is a disquieting fact that there are no indications of either policy or research being directed toward this combined objective."[5]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Mark Dowie, American Foundations: An Investigative History, 2001, The MIT Press, p. 105-106.
  2. Edmund Kazuso Oasa, The International Rice Research Institute and the Green Revolution: A Case Study on the Politics of Agricultural Research, PhD dissertation, University of Hawaii, 1981, p. 6-7.
  3. Jill Richardson, Bruce H. Jennings and the Green Revolution, Part 2, La Vida Locavore, March 18, 2011, Accessed March 20, 2011.
  4. Bruce H. Jennings, Foundations of International Agricultural Research: Science and Politics in Mexican Agriculture, 1988, Westview Press, Boulder, Co., p. 48
  5. World Parley Warned of Short Food Supplies," New York Times, August 11, 1970.

External Resources


  • Joseph Cotter, Troubled Harvest: Agronomy and Revolution in Mexico, 1880-2002, Praeger Publishers, Westport, Connecticut, 2003
  • Mark Dowie, American Foundations: An Investigative History, 2001, The MIT Press.
  • John H. Perkins, Geopolitics and the Green Revolution: Wheat, Genes, and the Cold War, Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Marcos Cueto, Missionaries of Science: The Rockefeller Foundation and Latin America, Indiana University Press, Indianapolis, 1994.
  • Bruce H. Jennings, Foundations of International Agricultural Research: Science and Politics in Mexican Agriculture, 1988, Westview Press, Boulder, Co.
  • Lester R. Brown, Seeds of Change: The Green Revolution and Development in the 1970's, 1970, Praeger Publishers, New York.
  • E.C. Stakman, Richard Bradfield, and Paul C. Mangelsdorf, Campaigns Against Hunger, 1967, The Belknap Press, Cambridge, MA.

External Articles