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close this bookBiotechnology and the Future of World Agriculture (GRAIN, 1991)
close this folderAgriculture in crisis
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe soil and water crisis
View the documentThe productivity crisis
View the documentThrough the looking glass
View the documentThe hidden harvest
View the documentThe problems not addressed
View the documentBiotechnology, the solution?

The problems not addressed

A surprising and probably unintended criticism of the limitations of the Green Revolution comes from one of its main donors: the Rockefeller Foundation (26) The Foundation has launched a major rice biotechnology programme in which IRRI is playing a major role. Having learned from the Green Revolution, the Foundation wants to select sound criteria for priority setting. It looked at the main research problems in rice-growing and ordered them by importance. The problems were weighted according to relevance for poor farmers and impact on the environment, and put against the likelihood that new technologies could offer solutions. To get an idea of the main problems, the views of scientists from within the system were surveyed. This resulted in a list of 24 insect pests, 16 diseases, eight soil problems, eight water and temperature problems and 12 other problems that rice production faces. The problems were then analysed in relation to the extent that Green Revolution technology had paid attention to them and/ or found solutions. The results are given in Table 2.1.

Table 2.1 Problems in rice and the Green Revolution response

The outcome of this Rockefeller survey is remarkable. Green Revolution scientists admit that for nearly 90% of the main problems in rice-growing no effective solution has been found. For only five out of the 68 problems listed were there sustained and effective solutions, while another four problems were effectively addressed but only for a limited time. Most of the major problems never have been seriously researched at all.