Green Revolution is the name given to the set of technological initiatives that transformed agricultural practices and dramatically increased food production in the world.The Green Revolution started in the 1950s in Mexico. Its precursor was agronomist Norman Borlaug, who developed chemical techniques capable of giving greater resistance to corn and wheat plantations, in addition to optimizing agricultural production methods.
The methods introduced by Borlaug were so effective that in a few years Mexico went from being an importer to exporting wheat. Thus, other underdeveloped countries, especially India, adopted the new practices, which quickly became popular in the rest of the world.
In 1970, Norman Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize, given that his work had major humanitarian consequences.
How did the Green Revolution start?
In 1944, Norman Borlaug moved to Mexico to work as a geneticist and phytopathologist. As an initial challenge, he fought the so-called “rust of the stalk”, a fungus that affected wheat plantations, killing plants and severely reducing production.
Borlaug managed to genetically breed two varieties of wheat: one resistant to fungus and the other adapted to local conditions in Mexico. In just three years, Borlaug selected successful crosses, adopted them as a model and eliminated the fungus, thereby increasing productivity.
However, in addition to disease resistance, the new wheat responded very effectively to fertilizers, which resulted in large and tall plants, which ended up breaking with the weight of the grains.
In 1953, through new genetic crosses, Borlaug obtained the so-called “half dwarf wheat”. This new wheat had shorter and stronger stems, capable of supporting the weight of the grains, maintaining disease resistance and high productivity. This new species of wheat became known as “Miraculous Seeds” and is, to this day, the most cultivated type of wheat in the world.
Thus, with the extreme increase in wheat production in Mexico, the Green Revolution began, which in just a few years transformed the agricultural paradigm worldwide.
Bases of the Green Revolution
The Green Revolution relied heavily on elements such as:
- genetic modification of seeds
- mechanization of production
- intensive use of chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides)
- introduction of new technologies for planting, irrigation and harvesting
- mass production of equal products as a way to optimize production
Disadvantages of the Green Revolution
Although the Green Revolution was extremely beneficial in its early decades, its negative aspects are easily observable, such as:
- very high level of water use to support their methods
- high dependence on technology from developed countries
- reduction of genetic diversity (bearing in mind that the priority is to cultivate homogeneous products to optimize production and obtain greater profit)
- questionable sustainability
- high level of environmental degradation
- increased income concentration
Green Revolution in Brazil
Brazil adopted the methods of the Green Revolution in the late 1960s, resulting in the period called “Economic Miracle”. At the time, the country became a large-scale producer and started to export food, especially soy.
Objective not achieved
Norman Borlaug worked in Mexico in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, whose slogan for the company was to end world hunger. It is estimated that Borlaug’s work saved one billion people from starvation, which gave him several honors.However, studies show that the Green Revolution is closely linked to the uncontrolled increase in the birth rate in the world, especially in underdeveloped countries.Thus, over time, the demographic increase overcame the increase in food production. Nowadays, the number of people going hungry is higher than the number of people in this situation before the Green Revolution.