A Revolution that Changed the World: The Green Revolution

(Krishna K. Didugu)

During the twentieth century, concerns over population and the ability of the planet to feed itself were widespread. Mexico, for example, struggled with food production, having to import half of its wheat supply. In the 1940s, Norman Borlaug, an American agricultural scientist, conducted research in Mexico to develop disease-resistant wheat crops. This research, coupled with the introduction of improved mechanised farming techniques, saw a dramatic increase in wheat production, allowing Mexico to become a net wheat exporter. Not only limited to Mexico, it spread across the world, allowing many more to become more self-sufficient in food production.

This rise in food production was made possible by introducing numerous vital technologies. The development of synthetic fertilizers made it possible to replenish soil nutrients reliably, reducing the reliance on limited natural resources. Improved machinery became widespread, contributing to the increase in agricultural output. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were also instrumental as they allowed for desired traits to be selected, like pesticides and herbicide resistance, through genetic modification.

These improvements were crucial in improving the lives of many across the world. In 1961, they helped prevent a famine. India was on the brink of famine, so Borlaug, who was renowned for his work, was invited by the Minister of Agriculture to act as an adviser. A new strain of rice was introduced, IR8, dramatically increasing food production. Dubbed the “Miracle Rice,” it allowed India to become one world’s most successful producers of rice as it substantially increased yields. IR8 is just one example of the impact of genetically modified (GM) crops. Around the world, these crops substantially raised food production, helping reduce world hunger and the threat posed by overpopulation.

Despite the numerous benefits of the Green Revolution, it has also resulted in untold damage to the planet. The overuse of fertilizers has polluted many waterways, harming local ecosystems. In addition, a rise in the creation of pesticide and herbicide-resistant crops has also increased the use of these dangerous chemicals. Water and land use has also risen because of the expansion of agricultural land, especially with the rise of agriculture in dryer regions. We must promote efficient land use, forcing agriculture to use less space. The threat of climate change also needs to be taken into account. Drought resistance, for example, can be introduced in more GM crops. A more sustainable future requires another revolution that changes agriculture as we know it. For a better world, it is necessary to maintain a balance between food production and preserving the environment.