1 Both the Green and Gene revolutions have has consequences beyond those envisaged when the technologies were first launched
2 The green revolution has been
accuses of creating a number of issues
2.1 Social polarisation - Larger farmers who could afford fertilisers, machinery and
labour benefited most. Smaller farmers lost out and many became landless labourers
2.2 Monocultures - HYVs are vulnerable to new strains of disease, such as Ug99, a variety of black
stem rust fungus discovered in Uganda in 1999, to which no known wheat variety is resistant
2.3 Dependency - Without high inputs of fertiliser, water and machinery, HYV
yields are very low. Farmers become dependent on purchasing these inputs
2.4 Environmental problems - The widespread use of agrochemicals has led to eutrophication,
while overuse of irrigation in arid areas has created salinisation of soils and water shortages
3.1 The huge expansion of GM soybean production led to an export boom and helped the economy recover from a serious crash in 2001
3.2 The number of farms by 60,000 as the area of GM soybean tripled.
3.3 Large farms benefited
from economies of scale,
whereas small ones did not
3.4 The cultivated area of
maize and sunflower fell
by more than 5 million
hectares, reducing food
security among the poor
4 Technology such as the green and gene revolutions and GM crops might be said to fix Kranzberg's first law of technology : "Technology is neither good nor bad. nor is it neutral"
5 The introduction of significant new technologies will have consequences, and these cannot always be foreseen
6 Texting, for example, was originally added to early mobile phones as a feature for people with hearing difficulties, and
was often not advertised. No-one guessed it would become the most common way of communicating via mobile phone
6.1 By 2004, over 500 billion texts were being sent per year
6.2 This was arguable a good consequence, but
an apparently good technology can also lead
directly or indirectly to negative consequences.
7 Death by DDT
7.1 Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) is the pesticide responsible for many deaths in wildlife.
7.2 It was first used to control malarial mosquitoes and was then adapted to a farm pesticide due to mosquitoes becoming resistant.
7.3 In 1962, environmentalist Rachel
Carson blamed DDT for the death
of wildlife through biomagnification
– higher concentrations of a
pesticide are reached in organisms
higher in the food chain.
7.4 DDT built up in birds from their ingested prey stopped them from laying eggs
7.5 In 1984, the UK banned DDT and now it has a minute role in protecting against mosquitoes
8 Ozone Hole
8.1 In the 1920s chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were developed.
8.2 CFCs are non-toxic and non-reactive and were ideal for use in fridges and cooling equipment
8.3 In 1949 they proved to be a good propellant for aerosol cans
8.4 In the 1970s, there was concerns that growing CFCs were depleting stratospheric ozone.
8.5 In 1976 CFCs
from being used
in spray cans in
8.6 In 1985 British scientists discovered the ozone hole in the stratosphere above Antarctica
8.7 The Montreal Protocol of 1987 phases out the use of ozone-depleting CFCs
8.8 CFCs afforded Affordable fridges which offered better food, vaccine and medicine storage so improved
human health, improved personal hygiene in the 1960s and increased the spread of graffiti in the late 1960s
9.1 Thalidomide was first manufactured West Germany
9.2 1953 by Chemie Grunenthal
9.3 commonly prescribed to stressed mothers
9.4 This drug was advertised as
especially suitable for infants
9.5 cured morning
sickness in pregnant
9.6 caused catastrophic deformities in babies. Mostly seen in the form of limb abnormalities
9.7 Around 15,000 foetuses were damaged by thalidomide and around 12,000 babies in 46 different countries were born with birth defects. Approximately 10,000 of them surviving past the first year of life.
9.8 It took four and a half years for someone to
suspect that thalidomide was the cause of
the limb and bowel malformations
9.9 In September 1959 thalidomide was stopped in German hospitals
9.10 Thalidomide was withdrawn on November 26th 1961
9.11 Thousands of babies had been born with deformities
9.12 Many women required extensive psychiatric treatment
9.13 Some children were destroyed by distraught parents
9.14 There were many broken marriages
9.15 There were many suicides
9.16 Brazil re-introduced thalidomide in 1964 to treat leprosy
9.17 Despite all of the side-effects thalidomide was still being used to treat Multiple Myeloma a resilient blood cancer (2000 to 2010)