Green Revolution and GMO

By: Hanya Pillai

Causes and Results from the Bengal Famine in 1943

The more compelling factor of the Bengal Famine is the hysteria related to World War II resulting in making the food supply a low priority for the British Rulers. It was further exploited when the Indian traders hoarded food in order to sell at higher prices. When the British left India, they were still shadowed by the Bengal Famine. This resulted in the food security to be a paramount item.

Basic Elements of the Green Revolution

The three basic elements that contributed to the Green Revolution were:

1) Continued expansion of farming areas- The area of land under cultivation was being increased

2) Double-cropping existing farmland- There was a natural monsoon and an artificial monsoon. The artificial monsoon was in the form of a huge irrigation facilities. Dams were built to arrest large volumes of natural monsoon water that were being wasted earlier.

3) Using seeds with improved genetics- This developed new stains of high yield value (HYV) seeds, mainly wheat and rice, also including millet and corn.

Positive results of the Green Revolution in India

1) The yield per unit farmland improved by more than 30%.

2) The crop area under HYV varieties grew from 7% to 22% of the total cultivated area

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Positive Economic, Sociological, or Political results from the Green Revolution

Economically, India payed back all loans it had taken from the World Bank. This improved their creditworthiness in the eyes of the leading agencies

Sociologically, created plenty of jobs such as factories and hydro-electric power stations

Politically, transformed themselves from a starving nation to an exporter of food

Limitations of the Green Revolution

1) India failed to extend the concept of high-yield value seeds to all crops or all regions

2) This did not succeed in making India totally and permanently self-sufficient in food

Concerns regarding the food fix

The Green Revolution increased the use of pesticides, that were necessary to limit the high levels of pest damage. However, pesticides can be harmful to farmers in many different ways as well. The problems included poisoning farm workers, contamination of water, and the evolution of resistance in pest.

Benefits and Negatives associated with GMOs

GMO (genetically modified organism) is where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of and unrelated plant or animal. The other genes could come from bacteria,viruses, insects,animals, or even humans.

Positives

  • Better tasting fruits and vegetables that stay fresh longer and are naturally resistant to insects
  • By developing special traits in plants, biotechnology allows more food to be grown in more places using fewer chemicals and fewer natural resources
  • Biotechnology also benefits the environment. The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology reported corn and cotton have decreased soil erosion by 90%, preserving 37 million tons of topsoil. Biotech crops also provide and 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
  • At Iowa State University a study showed that without biotechnology, global prices would be nearly 10% higher for soybeans and 6% higher for corn
  • Plant breeding can result in crops better able to withstand environmental challenges of drought, disease, and insect infections
The good, the bad, and the ugly about GMO
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Negatives

  • They're associated with herbicides that can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms
  • Cross pollination- pollen from modified plants can spread and infect other plants, creating "super-weeds"
  • If the protein is known to cause allergies in humans or a source that has never been consumed as human food, the protein could evoke an immune response
  • A GM plant could hypothetically have lower nutritional quality from its traditional counterpart by making nutrients unavailable or indigestible to humans
  • Most of the plants that humans consume produce toxins at low levels enough to where it does not have any repugnant health effects. However, the concern has to do with inserting an exotic gene into a plant, potentially causing it to produce toxins at much higher levels resulting in it being harmful to humans