India, soon to be the largest nation on earth, is facing a crisis in providing enough food for its people without destroying their environment.
In an effort to increase the agricultural production in India in the 1960s, plant geneticist M.S. Swaminathan and American scientist Norman Borlaug developed hybrid crops and synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. This "green revolution" almost doubled the amount of wheat grown in India.
But with the increase in production came more degradation of the environment. Farmers were using too much pesticides and fertilizers; they were using up all the water.
Now, new social entrepreneurs and the Indian government are promoting more sustainable methods for producing foods that waste less water and use genetically engineered seeds that protect plants from bugs.
"The question is, where will the food come from for 1.5 billion people. Already, half the kids under age 4 in the country are malnourished." - Fred de Sam Lazaro
"Farmers were encouraged to maximize production - with free electricity and subsidies to buy water pumps. And they had no incentive to conserve water - that, too, was free. Now, the water table that fed the green revolution is declining alarmingly." - Fred de Sam Lazaro
1. Where does your food come from? How do humans grow enough food for everyone?
2. What do you know about India? Where is it? What climate does it have?
1. How important is the environment to food production? Why?
2. Describe the trade offs associated with growing more food and supporting more people. What do you think is the right balance?
3. Should Indian farmers use genetically modified seeds to protect crops against insects? Why or why not?
4. Do you think the "green revolution" was a good idea? Did it create more problems than it solved? Why or why not?