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  1. Vol. 46 No. 5, p. 2293-2303
     
    Published: Sept, 2006


    * Corresponding author(s): chairman@mssrf.res.in
    msswami@vsnl.net
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doi:10.2135/cropsci2006.9999

An Evergreen Revolution

  1. Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan *
  1. National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, Chennai 600 113, India

Abstract

The Green Revolution was the product of alteration in plant architecture and physiological properties through breeding in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), rice (Oryza sativa L.), corn (Zea mays L.), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.), and other crops. The semidwarf plant stature contributed to providing adequate nutrition to the plant for high productivity, without inducing lodging. It also increased the harvest index. Similarly, photoinsensitivity helped to match the crop cultivar to seasons with appropriate moisture availability. The Green Revolution led to increased production through higher productivity and, thereby, conserved arable land and forests. Green Revolution technology, however, was criticized by environmentalists, economists, and social scientists for its deficiencies. Economists stressed that, because market-purchased inputs are needed for output, only resource-rich farmers are able to take advantage of high-yielding cultivars. Environmentalists emphasized that the excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, as well as the monoculture of a few crop cultivars, will create serious environmental problems, including the breakdown of resistance and the degradation of soil fertility. Social scientists stressed that often women were excluded from technology-based agriculture, leading to their marginalization. The Green Revolution, however, helped many developing countries, including India and China, to achieve a balance between population growth and food production. It contributed to an alignment of population growth to the human capacity to produce the needed food and other agricultural commodities.

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Copyright © 2006. Crop Science Society of AmericaCrop Science Society of America