Agricultural Technology: The Green Revolution

Figure 1.-- American technology as part of the Green Revolution dramatically uncreased farm yields throughout the Third world. While Communist countries reported harvest problems and even famines. the United Sates powered a massive expansion of food production throughout the Third World. Countries like India reported huge increases in harvests managing to exceed the needs of rising populations. Here we see an Indian farmer in 1972 with his bumper wheat crop. Notice the huge heads. And this is only one example of American Exceptionalism.

One of the most important, but least recognized events of the Cold War was the Green Revolution. While the Communisrs (Soviets, Chinese Communits, Ethioppia, Kymer Rouge, and North Koreans) like the Facists before them caused famines, America generated an explosion of farm productivity. Even before World War II, populations in many developing countries began to grow at extremrly fast rates. These high rates were in part the results of historical trends. A major factor was also improvements in health care made possible by health care programs financed by Europe and America. While populations were increasing, farming technology in much of the Third World had remained unchanged for centuries. Economists by the 1950s began to talk about a world-wide Malthusian famine because population growth would outrun the food supply. Agromists had been increasing crop yield by using mpre and more nitrogen fertilizer. This was possible because a German Jewish scientist, Fritz Huber, before World War I had figured out a chemical process for fixing nitrogen. This made possible increased food production by increasing the avialabilitt and cost of fertilizer. Farmers by the 1950s, however, had reached limits on the use of nitrogen. They found that seed heads were growing so heavy that stalks would collapse. An American agricultural scientist, Norman Borlaug, began working for the Rockefeller Foundation and began working on a project to help Mexico conquer hunger. Borlaug found a strain of wheat with a stubby stalk that could support a heavy seed head. He then transferred the gene to tropical weat and produced a strain that could support large sead heads. Bourlaug's work resulted in a wheat strain that could produce yields four times per acre than what was previously possible. This was just the first step in what is now known as the Green Revolution that eliminated famine in much of the Third World. The number of lives he saved are virtually impossible to calculate, but musr be in the hundreds of millions, if not billions. About half the world now eats grains descended from Borlaug's work. Bourlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1970), surely one of the indivuals most deserving of the award.


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Created: 6:14 AM 3/7/2016
Last updated: 6:14 AM 3/7/2016