Botany and Plant Pathology Seminar Series
Speaker: Dr. Steve Hallett - Department of Botany & Plant Pathology - Purdue University
Topic: Why the Green Revolution Failed and the Next One Will Too
When: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 3:30 pm in WSLR 116

​In the middle of the twentieth century crop yields were increasing dramatically in the rapidly growing, wealthy countries, but lagging in the poorer countries where populations were increasing and serious food shortages loomed. The Green Revolution was a huge effort in technology transfer through which the yield enhancing techniques of western agriculture were transferred to poor countries. Dramatic increases in food production were made in many regions, particularly South Asia. Food shortages were avoided or even turned into surpluses, and the Green Revolution has been hailed as one of the great triumphs of agricultural science. And so it was. The highest praise has gone to the plant breeders whose new varieties could support double or triple the yields of the varieties they replaced. The Green Revolution averted disaster and fed millions of people that would otherwise have starved. So how can this be construed as a failure? I will show why overpopulation is a social problem with no permanent technological solution, why efficiency is the worst enemy of sustainable agriculture, why the myopic drive to raise yields can never feed the world, and why the yield gains of the twentieth century presage the collapses of the twenty first.

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