Controlling the earth : wheat, genes, and the cold war by John H Perkins

By John H Perkins

Over the last a hundred years, the global yields of cereal grains, akin to wheat and rice, have elevated dramatically. because the Nineteen Fifties, advancements in plant breeding technology were heralded as a "Green Revolution" in smooth agriculture. yet what elements have enabled and promoted those technical adjustments? And what are the results for the way forward for agriculture? This new publication makes use of a framework of political ecology and environmental historical past to discover the "Green Revolution's" emergence throughout the twentieth century within the usa, Mexico, India, and Britain. It argues that the nationwide defense making plans efforts of every country have been an important forces selling the improvement and unfold of the "Green Revolution"; while considered within the better scheme, this era may be visible because the most recent bankruptcy within the lengthy heritage of wheat use between people, which dates again to the neolithic revolution. Efforts to reform agriculture and mitigate a few of the harsh environmental and social effects of the "Green Revolution" have in general been insensitive to the deeply embedded nature of excessive yielding agriculture in human ecology and political views. this significant perception demanding situations these considering agriculture reform to make productiveness either sustainable and sufficient for a becoming human inhabitants

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Plant breeders also were active in moving seeds around the globe to test which cultivars did well in new locations. In sum, even without Mendelian concepts and methods, plant breeders saw themselves as a small but identifiable group of scientists with a mission. The second set of reasons for moving cautiously in trying to understand the conceptual framework of plant breeding centers on what should be called the "silent" conceptual framework for plant breeding compared with the "overt" framework.

Yet just as plant-breeding science in its current form would be unrecognizable if Mendelism were excised from its body, so, too, would the field as we know it cease to be if the presumption of yield as the primary objective were removed. Reconstructing the roots of plant-breeding science before 1900, therefore, requires following two different threads and how they came together. First, we must be able to speak to the primacy of yields and its significance for the science. Second, we must understand the vigor, successes, and limitations of plant breeding in the first years of modern agriculture.

At first, most people were sedentary in rural areas and the occupation for most was farming. After the nineteenth century, the norm increasingly came to be sedentary in urban areas with a steadily decreasing number of people engaged directly in farming. Regardless of residence or occupation, however, the human population as a whole was almost completely dependent upon the produce of farming. • With sedentary culture came a richer material life: at first ceramics, then metals, and in more recent years a bewildering array of new materials in an endless parade of tools, jewelry, and amusing trinkets, all of which probably would not have even been invented, or at least not widely used, without a sedentary lifestyle.

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