Geopolitics and the Green Revolution: Wheat, Genes, and the Cold War

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byJohn H. Perkins

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During the last 100 years, the worldwide yields of cereal grains, such as wheat and rice, have increased dramatically. Since the 1950s, developments in plant breeding science have been heralded as a "Green Revolution" in modern agriculture. But what factors have enabled and promoted thesetechnical changes? And what are the implications for the future of agriculture? This new book uses a framework of political ecology and environmental history to explore the "Green Revolution's" emergence during the 20th century in the United States, Mexico, India, and Britain. It argues that thenational security planning efforts of each nation were the most important forces promoting the development and spread of the "Green Revolution"; when viewed in the larger scheme, this period can be seen as the latest chapter in the long history of wheat use among humans, which dates back to theneolithic revolution. Efforts to reform agriculture and mitigate some of the harsh environmental and social consequences of the "Green Revolution" have generally been insensitive to the deeply embedded nature of high yielding agriculture in human ecology and political affairs. This important insightchallenges those involved in agriculture reform to make productivity both sustainable and adequate for a growing human population.

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During the last 100 years, the worldwide yields of cereal grains, such as wheat and rice, have increased dramatically. Since the 1950s, developments in plant breeding science have been heralded as a "Green Revolution" in modern agriculture. But what factors have enabled and promoted thesetechnical changes? And what are the implications...

John H. Perkins is at Evergreen State College.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9.29 × 6.3 × 0.91 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195110137

ISBN - 13:9780195110135

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Table of Contents

1. Political Ecology and the Yield Transformation2. Wheat, People, and Plant Breeding3. Wheat Breeding: Coalescence of a Modern Science, 1900-19594. Plant Breeding in Its Institutional and Political Economic Setting, 1900-19405. The Rockefeller Foundation in Mexico: The New International Politics of Plant Breeding, 1941-19456. Hunger, Overpopulation, and National Security: A New Strategic Theory for Plant Breeding, 1945-19567. Wheat Breeding and the Exercise of American Power, 1940-19708. Wheat Breeding and the Consolidation of Indian Autonomy, 1940-19709. Wheat Breeding and the Reconstruction of Postimperial Britain, 1935-195410. Science and the Green Revolution, 1945-1975EpilogueNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"This study employs techniques of environmental history and political ecology to analyze the causes of the green revolution, which has produced immense increases in agricultural yields in more as well as less developed nations since the 1950's. . .Readers interested in the politics ofinternational relationships might want to concentrate on Perkins's discussion of the 'population-national security theory,' his term for the conceptual framework formulated in the United States to justify promotion of agricultural development in the Third World(chap. 6). . .Perkins does a good jobof discrediting the conceptual leaps of faith required to maintain belief in the population-national security theory. . .[T]his book succeeds in bringing historical scholarship to bear on the analytic concerns of political economy and ecology."--Environmental Ethics