Green Revolution

March 25, 1970

Report Outline
Agricultural Gains Among Poor Nations
Development of the Green Revolution
Side Effects of Increased Food Production
Special Focus

Agricultural Gains Among Poor Nations

New Hope for Averting Future World Famine

Many experts on world food supply and population recently have begun to retreat from dire predictions of Malthusian catastrophe. Most, but not all, now voice varying-degrees of optimism about man's future ability to escape global starvation. The reason for their change of mind lies in the Green Revolution, a phrase gaining universal currency in describing a dramatic, even startling, increase in food raising' in such traditionally hungry countries as India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Turkey. New “miracle grains”—wheat, rice, corn and other staples—are yielding record harvests.

J. George Harrar, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, sees the Green Revolution as offering the possibility of “gradually eliminating chronic hunger, malnutrition and all-too-frequent famines from regions where they have long been ever-present threats to society.” Even the most skeptical observers concede that the new farm technology has probably bought some precious time—a decade or two—in which to cheek the runaway rate of population growth that threatens man with disaster in the years ahead. The world population, now 3.5 billion and rising at a rate of nearly 2 per cent a year, is expected almost to double by the end of this century.

While population rose almost unchecked, world grain production declined sharply in the first six years of the 1960s. India and Pakistan suffered crippling-droughts in 1965–67 and averted famine only with food aid from abroad, principally from the United States. The Organization of American States observed in 1965 that “the less-developed world is losing the capacity to feed itself.” The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization in 1966 glumly forecast an impending famine. Such has been the impact of the Green Revolution that only three years later the same organization predicted a world food surplus in 1970. It warned of possible disruptions in world trade from an expected glut of grain.

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