Overthrowing the “Green Revolution”

Controversial left libertarian author Kevin Carson takes on the cheerleaders for the “Green Revolution” in a magazine length article at C4SS, “The Green Revolution Saved Lives? A Killer Meme That Just Won’t Die.”

“Recently, in honor of Norman Borlaug’s 95th birthday, Ron Bailey of Reason Magazine posted a quote from his 2000 interview with Borlaug. For those unfamiliar with him, Borlaug was the most famous pioneer of the “Green Revolution” seeds of the 1960s, credited with a drastic expansion in food production. The claim that Borlaug saved a billion people from starvation is a persistent meme on the Internet.”

Carson bristles at Borlaug’s dismissal of organic farming. I think Borlaug’s attitude is ridiculous given the urban organic gardening Dervaes family living off a tenth of an acre and other examples such as “Permaculture Productivity 8 Times USDA Possible.”

Here’s a significant excerpt about the “Green Revolution” itself:

“The very claim that Borlaug “saved a billion lives” starts from a false assumption: that the main cause of Third World starvation was economic, rather than political. It assumes that starvation resulted mainly from insufficient production, from a lack of land, or from the inadequacy of farming techniques. In fact, the main cause of Third World starvation was what Franz Oppenheimer called “political appropriation of the land”: great landlords and landed oligarchs holding fertile land out of cultivation altogether, or tractoring off peasant smallholders so the land could be used to grow cash crops for export. The real source of starvation is the hundreds of millions of people living in shantytowns who might otherwise be supporting themselves on their own land, but who now can’t afford the “more efficient” crops produced on their former land at any price, because they don’t have any money.”

Also worth reading are the insightful comments following Carson’s article, trying to keep him from becoming a total Luddite. Good stuff.

I guess the blog publishing technology “Screen Revolution” is saving a billion readers.

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