Skeptical take on the Green Revolution

CBC's long-form/big think radio program Ideas recently featured a lecture called "Feeding Ten Billion" from Raj Patel, an Africa development scholar formerly with the World Bank, and author of The Value of Nothing. Patel's perspective on global agriculture and social justice is incisive and contrarian. I've never heard anyone talk about the demerits of the "Green Revolution" in agriculture like this, and it was an eye-opener. A perfect hour-long listen for the weekend's chores. MP3 link


  1. I read on wikipedia that some Christians think he is the Antichrist. I do hope it is true. Anyone who can wind up Christians that much must be worth listening to.

  2. When I was in my environmental science classes back in the 80s, there were lots of criticisms of the Green Revolution, so much so that later I was surprised to learn that most people think it’s great. Yes, it fed a lot of people, but it also brought too-rapid population growth, deforestation, water table depletion, precarious monocultures, food-supply oligopolies, over-reliance on petrochemicals, etc. etc..

    1. We covered these topics in my 1988 senior seminar in biology as well.  Monoculture is an unappreciated risk, a global sticking the world’s eggs in too few baskets.  Listening to the podcast now, so don’t know if he covers it, another  emerging issue is dead zones in the sea caused by agricultural runoff. 

  3. I’d just like to point out that the world already grows enough calories to feed ten billion people (stats easily googlable). We just feed a lot of it to animals instead of people, and then throw a lot of it away, because that’s how the market ends up working. The near-billion going hungry? It’s largely because they can’t afford to have food shipped to them.

    1. And just thinking about it being this way because we insist on worshiping the golden bull should make anyone (unless you happen to be a sociopathic suit) sick. The green “revolution” appear to be just an excuse for “supernational” corporatism to keep on trucking…

    1. I listened to this while on a long, night bike ride and froze my ass off.  I think I should have done chores instead like you guys.

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