Environmental Impacts of Productivity-Enhancing Crop Research: A Critical Review
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Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10947/491
Study by Drs. Mywish Maredia and Prabhu Pingali reviewing evidence of the possible negative impacts of productivity-enhancing technologies on the environment. Identifying "negative land savings" as a suitable measure of negative impact, the authors find salinity problems associated with irrigation as the most complete available index of land savings lost, and together with less precise measures of the impacts of intensification and monocultures, estimate global land savings lost to be on the order of 90-100 million hectares. This is several hundreds of millions of hectares less than the positive land savings attributable to CGIAR research on eight mandated crops (see "Environmental Impacts of the CGIAR: An Assessment.")A treatment of efforts by the CGIAR and NARS to mitigate negative impacts on the environment follows, focusing on the development of pest-resistant varieties and integrated pest management practices which reduce the need for pesticides. While this was identified clearly as an area of significant advances, farmers' adoption of these varieties and practices was not matched by a concomitant reduction in pesticide use - which represented a major failure in disseminating the implications of the new technologies for pesticide requirements. The study ends by pointing to the complexities of relating environmental impacts to agricultural research, given the many factors other than research that contribute to these impacts. Adding to this difficulty of attributing the causes of environmental impacts to research, the authors describe a common tendency of literature to conflate the green revolution with the larger phenomenon of agricultural intensification.