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« Namaste, Madam President (Sujatha) | Main | K.O. in Kabul! »

July 30, 2007

Comments

Ruchira,

I am surprised you haven't heard of Borlaug. He is reasonably well known figure in India for obvious reasons. He is credited with assisting us with the high-yielding variety of Mexican wheat that launched the Green Revolution.

I was surprised too. Of course I know about the Green Revolution and noted that Borlaug was instrumental in introducing the concept and methodology. I just did not know the name. And if I did at one time, I had forgotten, which is why I was struck by this story.

Dr.Borlaug was recognizedby the Indian government with a belated Padma Vibhushan in 2006 for being one of the prime movers of the Green Revolution in India. The linked article has a pretty amazing description of the sequence of events that occurred in the 1960's with the spectre of famine hovering.
He has also been a hardheaded advocate of GM techniques in food crops, insisting that it is the best way to ensure enough food production to feed a burgeoning population. I'm not so convinced of the rightness of transgenic crops now being promoted, however. While intensive work on hybridization led to high yield seeds and consequent increases in grain stockpiles, the results with Bt cotton haven't proven as benign, studied over a 7 year period. So, with not enough studies going on regarding the effects of growing transgenic food varieties, Monsanto's pullouts of FDA approved GM wheat, apparently caving in to market pressure (but who knows whether that is indeed the real reason), I don't think that GM food crops will be a super-substitute for the non-transgenic hybrids.

From the article linked to by Sujatha: ... The reason is clearly over-bureaucratisation of agriculture by the Union and State Governments.

Otherwise how does one explains the description of Dr Norman Borlaug, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his contribution to agriculture and who is described the world over as the "greatest hunger fighter" as a mere "Mexican Scientist" who has been selected for a Padma Vibhushan award this year.

Whoa! So the government of India didn't quite remember him either!

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