The Green Revolution was a massive technological transformation that took place in agriculture between 1950-1970 that incorporated new seed varieties, agrochemicals, machinery and irrigation techniques.
Post World War II, the United States aimed to alleviate global hunger as a means to keep potentially politically unstable countries more stable in the midst of global population expansion. The new methods of farming developed to achieve that goal are attributed in large part to famed scientist Norman Borlaug.
Borlaug developed a disease resistant, high yield variety of wheat, which was prolific due to expensive and environmentally harmful inputs including synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Improved wheat yields did in fact attain the goal of helping to alleviate global hunger, but at a cost that we now all pay in poor soil and human health.
Economically, the Green Revolution was globally devastating to small farms producing a variety of crops, which were often replaced by large farms that produced only a few high-yield crop varieties. American commercial stocks replaced native varieties of staple crops, and agricultural biodiversity was hampered.
The Green Revolution birthed the era of chemical agriculture, and eventually the development of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The use of GMOs, pesticides and animal factory farming have expedited the destruction of our previously rich soil, nutrient-dense crops, and community of family farms.
Despite a wealth of evidence pointing to the failure of the Green Revolution model of farming, avid pro-chemical farming supporter Bill Gates continues to pressure countries to adopt farming practices utilizing synthetic fertilizers and toxic pesticides. Fortunately, regenerative farmers and organizations are gaining a louder voice, and recently wrote a compelling open letter explaining the benefits of regenerative vs chemical agriculture.
While controversy and debate ensues around the costs vs benefits of chemical agriculture to human health, it is undeniable that the chemicals used on our food have contributed to a dramatic increase in chronic disease and planetary destruction.