02 January 2015

"The Green Revolution"

When Borlaug was doing his groundbreaking work in the 60s, he didn’t have the advanced tools that breeders have today. He used something called “mutation breeding.” That method uses radiation or mutagenic chemicals to increase the number of gene mutations in a population of seeds and then a search is made for the extremely rare cases where the mutation is beneficial. Compared to modern biotechnology this is a pretty crude approach, but that was the only method Borlaug had to speed up the process of trait selection. Most crops consumed by the public-at-large in industrialized nations are Green revolution crops. Since improved crop yield was produced mostly through the use of heavy fossil fuel inputs, the increased efficiency of Green revolution strains is geared towards these inputs; that is, the strains are more efficient at exploiting the chemical fertilizers used, and also are designed to be easier to harvest mechanically. The Green revolution allowed a drastic reduction in the input of human labor to agriculture by extending the use of machinery to automate every possible agricultural process. The development of chemical pesticides and herbicides (including organochlorine and organophosphate compounds) allowed further improvements in crop yields by allowing for efficient weed control and eradication of insect pests.
Thus...I will stick with organic ancient wheats...emmer, einkorn, kamut, spelt. And continue to ferment my doughs. I also ferment many other foods. It is my belief that fermentation is important for our continued health.
If you have any interest, Bill Mollison's book on fermentation and human nutrition is being offered at a discounted rate...although it may still be prohibitively expensive for some folks. I was gifted this book in the 90s.


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