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The term "The Green Revolution" has been used by the popular press to describe the spectacular increase in cereal-grain production during the past three years. Perhaps the term "Green Revolution," as commonly used, is premature, too optimistic, or too broad in scope. Too often it seems to convey the impression of a general revolution in yields per hectare and in total production of all crops throughout vast areas comprising many countries. Sometimes it also implies that all farmers are uniformly benefited by the breakthrough in production.

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These implications both oversimplify and distort the facts. The only crops which have been appreciably affected up to the present time are wheat, rice, and maize. Yields of other important cereals, such as sorghums, millets, and barley, have been only slightly affected; nor has there been any appreciable increase in yield or production of the pulse or legume crops, which are essential in the diets of cereal-consuming populations. Moreover, it must be emphasized that thus far the great increase in production has been in irrigated areas. Nor have all cereal farmers in the irrigated areas adopted and benefited from the use of the new seed and the new technology. Nevertheless, the number of farmers, small as well as large, who are adopting the new seeds and new technology is increasing very rapidly, and the increase in numbers during the past three years has been phenomenal. Cereal production in the rain-fed areas still remains relatively unaffected by the impact of the Green Revolution, but significant change and progress are now becoming evident in several countries. ...

The Green Revolution has won a temporary success in man's war against hunger and deprivation; it has given man a breathing space. If fully implemented, the revolution can provide sufficient food for sustenance during the next three decades.

Malthus signaled the danger a century and a half ago. But he emphasized principally the danger that population would increase faster than food supplies. In his time he could not foresee the tremendous increase in man's food production potential. Nor could he have foreseen the disturbing and destructive physical and mental consequences of the grotesque concentration of human beings into the poisoned and clangorous environment of pathologically hypertrophied megalopoles. Can human beings endure the strain? Abnormal stresses and strains tend to accentuate man's animal instincts and provoke irrational and socially disruptive behavior among the less stable individuals in the maddening crowd.

We must recognize the fact that adequate food is only the first requisite for life. For a decent and humane life we must also provide an opportunity for good education, remunerative employment, comfortable housing, good clothing, and effective and compassionate medical care. Unless we can do this, man may degenerate sooner from environmental diseases than from hunger.

And yet, I am optimistic for the future of mankind.


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