Why is The Green Revolution failing … So far?
There are basically two Green Revolutions, one that is destroying the biosphere, and one that can potentially create natural, balanced ecology on Earth.
In the 60s I was unwittingly part of the first green revolution as a member of the initial group of American Peace Corps volunteers sent into Micronesia. The program was marketed as “Peace Corps goes to paradise”—and paradise it was. I was a Public Health official with the assignment to assess the health status of the Yapese islanders (the Island of Stone Money) and to implement disease treatment and prevention measures.
This was the time of the rollout of industrialized agriculture with its inputs of new technologies like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and mechanization to improve food production all over the world. The green movement started in the West and moved into the third world (the global South), with the worthy goal of eradicating all starvation. Our intentions were good.
In those days we were in love with the emerging discipline of organic chemistry and industrialized farming ideas, and how together they would change the world to a better place. Just to give you a glimpse of our “starry eyed” ignorance as to any hazards of putting toxins into our environment: the Peace Corp gave all health officials who were sent to Micronesia a 55 gallon drum can of DDT, to use as we saw fit.
Another example of our naiveté as to possible systemic consequences of adding toxins to our environment was displayed by a fellow volunteer, who had been traveling throughout Micronesia and arrived at my remote setting one day. His duty, as an “Agricultural Specialist” who had been trained in part by the USDA, was to promote modern agro-industrial farming methods. Upon viewing our lush coconut groves, he suggested, as he had been proposing throughout Micronesia, to poison every third tree as a means of enhancing the copra yields.
Herbicides and pesticides back then were thought of as the farmer’s best friend for they killed only the unwanted things—so we thought then. Of course now we know better. Back then, we didn’t grasp the toxic consequences for the biosphere as a whole and the toll it was to bring on human health in particular.
“Though credited for saving the world from hunger. The reality is that it produced as many hungry people as it saved. And, this first Green Revolution led to the monopolization of seed and chemical inputs by Northern companies, the loss of 90% of the Souths agricultural biodiversity, the global shift to an oil-based agricultural economy and the displacement of millions of peasants to fragile hillsides, shinking forests and urban slums.” (Food Rebellions! Crisis and the Hunger for Justice. Eric Holt-Gimenez and Raj Patelk, 2009)
There is so much more to say and we’ll share it in digestible, bite-sized amounts. To be continued next week.
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This wise soul, ghostlike creature, is the Arctic tundra’s snowy owl. They are large owls, very territorial and will defend their nests against all comers—even wolves. Their preferred meal is lemmings and an adult may eat more than 1,600 lemmings a year, or three to five every day. They also supplement their diet with rabbits, rodents, birds and fish. Unlike most owls, which are nocturnal, snowy owls are diurnal—they hunt and are active both day and night.
Vandana Shiva on the problem with genetically modified seeds—an interview with Bill Moyer. Plus many other videos of this true luminary for the interconnectedness of life.
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