Green Revolution

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Green Revolution

Green Revolution, term referring mainly to dramatic increases in cereal-grain yields in many developing countries beginning in the late 1960s, due largely to use of genetically improved varieties. Beginning in the mid-1940s in Mexico researchers led by American Norman E. Borlaug developed broadly adapted, short-stemmed, disease-resistant wheats that excelled at converting fertilizer and water into high yields. The improved seeds were instrumental in boosting Mexican wheat production and averting famine in India and Pakistan, earning Borlaug the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Significant though less dramatic improvements followed in corn. The Mexican program inspired a similarly successful rice-research effort in the Philippines and a network of research centers dedicated to the important food crops and environments of the developing world. More recent research has sought to respond to criticism that the Green Revolution depends on fertilizers, irrigation, and other factors that poor farmers cannot afford and that may be ecologically harmful; and that it promotes monocultures and loss of genetic diversity.

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