and the Framing of
John Harriss and Drew Stewart
The tragedy of the Green Revolution lies precisely in its narrow technologi-
cal focus that ignored the far more important social and structural under-
pinnings of hunger. The technology strengthened the very structures that
enforce hunger. A new “gene revolution” will only exacerbate the worst errors
of the Green Revolution .
(Open Letter to M.Jacques Diouf, D-G, FAO 16 June 2004)
The development of IR8 and its dissemination throughout Asia is . . . lit-
erally helping to fill hundreds of millions of rice bowls once only half full.
(Lester Brown 1970)
There have been two major developments in agricultural technology in the last half
century, each of which continues to be the object of heated controversy. The first was
the introduction of higher-yielding, or “modern” varieties (HYVs/MVs) of the major
cereals. This process began in the 1940s, but it took off only in the 1960s (when the rice
variety IR8, referred to by Lester Brown in our first epigraph, was introduced). This gave
rise to what came to be known as the “Green Revolution” (GR). The second develop-
ment involves the application of genetic engineering in agriculture, beginning in the
1980s. As a result of this innovation, what have been popularly labeled as “GMOs”—
genetically modified organisms—began to be introduced into cultivation in the 1990s.