SOC 2080 Mar.27.docx

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29 Mar 2012
Department
Course
From Green Revolution to GM Foods
-technologies for food production don’t exist in the abstract-we must speak about them in context
-in context means an enveloping structure that has social, cultural, economic and political dimensions
-the structure is characterized by tension, gross economic inequalities, asymmetries of power, conflict
-this structure is permeated by contradictions
Green Revolution: 1960’s
-conception: public institutions funded by private foundations-Ford and Rockefeller
-disinterested or self-interested funding?-farm equipment and farm chemicals were major inputs for this
“revolution”
-H Y Varieties dependent upon technological package
-wheat, rice, corn, coffee- major impact crops
-hailed as a huge success
-yields increase substantially over next few decades
-advocates point to India-from importer to exporter of grain
-yield increases seen w/other crops i.e. coffee
-initial critiques on “scale effects” of these technologies-impacts on small farmers-differentiation of farm
operators
-impoverishment of majority, enrichment of minority of small capitalist farmers
-Punjab of N. India was heavily studied area- wheat, rice, cotton
Aftermath
-early proletarianization of Punjabi small holders
Pollution
-in last 10 years studies indicate presence mercury, cadmium, chromium, and lead in vegetables bring
grown alongside the length of Buddha Nuhhal river in Punjab
-fluoride, mercury, beta-endosulphan and heptachlor [pesticides] were found to be more than
permissible limit [MPL] in ground and tap water
-ammonia, phosphate, chloride, chromium, arsenic were also found
-pesticides detected in fodder, vegetables, blood, bovine and human milk samples, indicating that these
have entered the food chain due to the use of agricultural run-off and irrigation of fields w/drain water
[Express India]
-Greenpeace funded study of 50 Punjab villages-found rampant biological and chemical contamination
-it notes that “it’s clear that Punjab is in a deep ecological crisis”
Water Depletion
-Green Rev. also dependent on heavy irrigation, b/c double cropping decision
-one crop during the natural monsoon, the other w/the artificial monsoon derived from irrigation
-evidence of drastic ground water depletion
-NASA satellite that can detect groundwater supplies noted dramatic changes in groundwater level is
NW India-Punjab-over last decade
Soil Salinization
-high water needs require drilling ever-deeper wells for groundwater
-evaporation=salt residues that build over time
-eventually salinization effectively ruins the soil, rendering it barren
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