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A Watershed in Agricultural Production

A Watershed in Agricultural Production

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A Watershed in Agricultural Production

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  1. The Green Revolution A Watershed in Agricultural Production

  2. Industrialization of food production in the Global South • WW II Food shortages • CIMMYT – Chapingo, Mexico • Rockefeller Foundation • Norman Borlaug —1970 Nobel Peace Prize • HYV seeds

  3. PL 480 (Food for Peace) • U.S. grain surpluses dumped on the Global South • The “Green Revolution” to stop the “red” one (communism)

  4. Mexico, 1950-70 • Corn production 250% • Wheat production 8 X • Imported ½ wheat, now self-sufficient • Best results – irrigation districts, limited application to rain-fed lands

  5. Green Revolution Technology: Not Scale Neutral • Socio-political context ignored • U.S. = +land, -labor • Global South = -land, + labor • Increasing scale: • Tractor – requires larger area • HYV – stiff stalk mechanize harvest compact soil more fertilizer

  6. Technological Package • HYV seeds – purchase annually • HYV seeds – require herbicides, pesticides pest resistance pesticide treadmill • 25% of banned pesticides are exported • Persistent hydrocarbons (DDT) nonpersistent organophosphates (parathion, paraquat, etc.)

  7. “Technological Efficiency” • Corn: • yields, protein content • labor costs, unemployment • HYV seeds tested under ideal conditions; unsuited to poor soils worked by peasants • Monocrop production – lack of rotation depletes soil • loss of genetic diversity • Loss of traditional seeds that coevolved with their environment • Greater susceptibility to pests

  8. Cost of Fertilizer • 1971: fertilizer was cheap • 1973: OPEC raised the price of oil • 1 T. oil 1 T. ammonia 2-3 T. Fertilizer

  9. Social Differentiation • More wealthy, innovative farmers receive credit, technology • Concentration of land, displacement of peasants • Improved GNP, but failure to improve lives of poor farmers • 1970s: Mexico began to import grains

  10. Who Benefits? • TNCs – sale of inputs & outputs • Sales of top 10 agribusinesses exceed the GDP of 21 of the 28 Latin American & Caribbean countries • Progressivist View: • Scientists own the knowledge • Devaluation of indigenous knowledge