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The Violence of the Green Revolution: Analytical Essay

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Food security is defined by The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a “situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” Within the past year, there have been several reports released by a multitude of organizations regarding the devastating effects that climate change will have. It’s scientifically proven that the recent drastic change in climate has brought on harsher weather, droughts, heat waves, intensified hurricanes, and a multitude of other environmentally detrimental events. Climate change heightens the risk and intensity of weather events, and not just regular weather events, the extreme weather events. Weather-related disasters can destroy agricultural and community infrastructure, increasing the risk of food insecurity. As an example, in 2016 hurricane season, Japan was hit with several hurricanes, most going to the northern region of Hokkaido, which is a very vital region for production of crops; potato, carrot, sweet corn, and other various vegetables. More than 4 hurricanes struck this region of Japan, damaging farmland and infrastructure, and causing supermarket vegetable prices to spike. This event affected many Japanese households, including my own, who had to budget for these price spikes, decreasing the intake of vegetables. These types of events are only a foreshadowing of what is to come during the next few years. Global Food Security is directly tied to climate change, and if Global Food Security is not assured, Japan’s Food Security is also at risk. Japanese Food Security is only achievable when Global Food Security is also achieved. However, it is important that these achievements for Japan’s food security is attained through environmentally sustainable ways. In this essay, I would like to outline the question “Why climate change can directly affect global food security as well as Japanese food security.”

In research, there was a movement to genetically change the construct of the seeds planted to produce a higher yield. One of the solutions to food security attainability was a movement to introduce “high yielding variety” seeds, otherwise known as miracle seeds. The introduction of miracle seeds to start the green revolution was anything but a miracle. These HYV seeds were simply “aimed at increasing the output of a single component of a farm, at the cost of decreasing other components increasing external inputs” (Shiva, The Violence of the Green Revolution, p. 40). What the green revolution and the scientists behind the HYV seed failed to consider was the potential awful outcomes of these seeds and HYV replaced the already existent organic inputs with chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and dams for intensive irrigation with those ecological costs being atmospheric pollution, destruction of soil fertility, micronutrient deficiency, soil toxicity, water logging, and salinization, desertification and water scarcity, genetic erosion biomass reduction for fodder and organic manure, nutritional imbalances with the reduction of pulses, oilseeds, millets, and pesticide contamination of food, soil, water human and animal life. (Shiva, The Violence of the Green Revolution, p. 44) The key for HYV lies in the mass consumption of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, and without the use of these chemicals, the HYV seed was unable to produce high quantities. It was simply chemical farming and “Chemical farming … contributed to the erosion of food security through the pollution of land, water, and the atmosphere.” (Shiva, The Violence of the Green Revolution, p. 68) In India, the HYV seeds were introduced as a solution to famine and to increase the quantity of crops to help push it towards its goal of being an export-oriented country, changing them to a market economy. The increase in production was achieved, but “multiple uses of plant biomass (were) consciously sacrificed for a single use, with non-sustainable consumption of fertilizer and water.” (Shiva, The Violence of the Green Revolution, p. 45) “The ‘miracle’ varieties displaced the traditionally grown crops and through the erosion of diversity, the new seeds became a mechanism for introducing and fostering pests…” (Shiva, The Violence of the Green Revolution, p. 56) further proving that the cropping system that was originally in place was already sustainable on its own. “The only miracle that seems to have been achieved with the breeding strategy of the Green Revolution is the creation of new pest and diseases… with the ever-increasing demand for pesticides” (Shiva, The Violence of the Green Revolution, p. 56) creating an unsustainable vicious cycle that is in consistent demand and dependence on chemicals to supply its community with crops. The Green Revolution started a vicious unsustainable cycle perpetuating the need for pesticides and fertilizers to continue to produce a single crop, only to have the soil exhausted of its nutrients. This attempt at trying to increase the yield of one crop to cure the hunger issues destroyed the agricultural system that was in place. Taking this example, it’s important to understand that in this instance, in trying to food security and decrease hunger, the effect on the environment was drastic, and the food security of India was undeniably decreased because of the soil’s degradation to dust.

Currently, Japan’s self-sufficiency rate is at a startling 38%, and Japan’s agricultural production of its own food is at a similar 40%. This makes Japan extremely vulnerable to any changes in the global sector regarding food production and exports. These charts below map out the current situation of food security in Japan. In the first figure, we look at the current state of Japanese food security, and the challenges facing Japan. What is most notable in this chart is the 3rd point which is the “potential emergency scenarios and changes in the environment.” McKinsey points out the risks that come with the changes in the environment, which could be due to climate change. There are many times that the climate directly affects the food sources available, as I mentioned in the introduction paragraph about Hokkaido and how it affected Japan that year. According to a recent climate report, the types of extreme weather incidents are only going to increase, intensifying the rate at which there may be food shortages. These extreme weather incidents are said to increase, exceptionally so in the regions that are the giant producers of our main diet, such as wheat grains and rice. It’s important that Japan can respond to these types of situations accurately.

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  1. Figure 1 The current status and desired end state of food security in Japan
  2. Figure 2 Summary of directions for Japan’s food security strategy

According to McKinsey (2015), there are 7 potential scenarios that could take place in the coming future should no policies be implemented into Japan’s Food Security Strategy. McKinsey states the following situations.

  1. Risk of water shortages and droughts in major agricultural countries
  2. Lack of quality materials in less-developed agricultural countries
  3. Production shortfalls from climate change
  4. Lack of quality to satisfy Japanese demand
  5. Lack of export infrastructure in less developed agricultural countries
  6. Inability to purchase due to a decline in Japan’s purchasing power
  7. Political risks via global food shortfalls

Of these 7 scenarios, more than half directly involve the potential effects of climate change. No matter how you look at it, climate change is directly tied to global food security, and global food security is directly tied to Japanese food security. To hammer out concrete safety on Japan’s food security, Japan must incorporate food security as a national security policy into its own government policies, as well as build bridges within the international community to solve issues such as climate change and global warming. Should the global food security crisis only continue to worsen, Japan and the Japanese people could experience several of the potential scenarios indicated by the McKinsey analysis. Global Food Security is something that is directly tied to the pitfalls of climate change and is only achievable when that solution is something that is environmentally sustainable. Japanese food security will only be achieved when global food security is achieved, therefore, it is vital that Japan come up onto the international stage to

Global Food Security is directly tied to climate change, and if Global Food Security is not assured, Japan’s Food Security is also at risk. Japanese Food Security is only achievable when Global Food Security is also achieved. However, it is important that these achievements for Japan’s food security is attained through environmentally sustainable ways. There are many risks to the international community that have started to occur within the global region today. Terrorism is on the rise, natural disasters continue to plague the earth, but the biggest risk that poses to the well-being of people is food security. Food Security must be included into the national security strategy of Japan, and the movements to deter the horrible side effects of climate change must be incorporated as well. Only then, can Japan rest easy in knowing that the food for its people are secure?

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The Violence of the Green Revolution: Analytical Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from
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