Remember Norman Borlaug's Green Revolution of the 1960's? The essence was high-yielding plant varieties, coupled with introduction of petro-fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation, to enable crop yield improvement on a macro scale. It was a widely heralded notion that allowed developing nations outside of Africa to grow more food - in some cases to the point of becoming self-dependent for decades. Since then, the sustainability of the 20th Century version of Green Revolution has been severely challenged by population increases, changes in geopolitical goals, increased fertilizer prices, the patenting of GM seeds, and depletion or contamination of groundwater stemming from irrigation.
Get ready for Green Revolution II, as climate change adaptation needs take precedent.
Climate-change and crop experts have called for a paradigm shift in agricultural research to focus on making plants more resilient to global warming rather than on increasing yields.
Martin Parry, co-chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and William Dar, director-general of the International Centre for Research in Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India, said the focus of crop research should be reoriented towards adaptation to environmental stress, such as rising temperatures and water scarcity.