On Feeding 10 Billion

I’ve been working away on a big academic article on the “Green Revolution”, which I hope will be finished soon. Meantime, here’s a lecture based on the research so far, courtesy of the good folk at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Listen here.

6 Replies to “On Feeding 10 Billion”

  1. Hi Raj, I am unable to open audio lecture. Can someone please post a transcript if at all possible? It will be appreciated.

  2. I wish I had one – but watch this space. In a month or so, I’m hoping to have finished the article on which this lecture is based, and will post it swiftly.

  3. I heard much of this lecture on NPR yesterday and kept exclaiming, “Yes!” I was particularly interested in the history of the Green Revolution, since this is not the story handed down by the USDA, Extension services, etc. I will watch your blog, as I would like to link to your article once it is posted. Thank you for your excellent scholarship, Raj!

  4. Thanks to serendipity I was well pleased to hear a good part of your Feeding 10 Billion on CBC!!!

    I much appreciated how you effectively explained that the “green revolution” was essentially the privatization and shift of the public peasant space to grow food into the hands of a very few wealthy. And that food sovereignty is essentially the democratic antidote!!!

    This ties in with a democratic lever of power that I have “discovered” by which we the people can much more effectively take assured and democratic control of country. Or as Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, who was imprisoned for over 20 years for advancing democracy, said rather elloquently and powerfully the she upon her election was hoping for the realization of “the rule of the people in the every day politics of our country.” This excellent statement comes from
    http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/287170/a-speech-worth-waiting-for

    One other source no longer available online and this one were the only two places in the media world wide that I found that actually contained the quote as I first heard her in the CBC news!!! All other print media that quote the same speech, dumb-down Suu Kyi’s democratic message, beginning first by replacing the word “rule” with “role” etc.

    And what is the lever of power by which we can get there? First, a recap of how our elections fail us and then how we the people have the power now already to elect more sympathetic representatives to our governments who will be more accountable to the 99%.

    In 2009, years before Occupy Wall Street, I noticed US numbers revealed that 99% of Americans are controlled by 1%:

    “Back in 1990, people making more than $1 million in today’s dollars earned less than 0.8 percent of all the wages paid in America. Last year these multimillionaires sucked up more than 5 percent… (with the) workers overall…, 99 PERCENT EARNED LESS THAN $200,000”?
    http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2009/01/fiscal-therapy.html

    FYI, the Canadian equivalent of the 99% versus the 1% is available at:
    http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2010/12/Richest%201%20Percent.pdf

    My question, under a true and legitimate majority rule democratic system, what is the lever of power by which the 99% in each country keep voting in government representatives that support such gross inequities?

    Our single-mark ballot system — often called a first-past-the-post process — is extremely vulnerable to vote-splitting. Vote-splits divide the voice of a majority and are easily orchestrated to produce victorious candidates. Consider a clear majority of five out of nine voters dividing their ballots in a three-candidate election between two similar candidates. Candidate A gets 2 votes and B gets 3, while C, not approved by the majority, receives 4 votes and is declared elected.

    Electorates have the right and the power to be pro-active in the democratic process, seizing the initiative from the political class and reducing the risk of vote-splitting inherent in FPTP/single mark voting systems, currently run and administrated to the direct advantage of the ruling class. Ideally, we should have no minority supported elected representatives in our respective governments. Specific to Canada’s 2008 election resulted in 64% of the electoral districts (198 out of 308) returning an MP with minority support, where the majority went home without their candidate elected. Seven MPs were elected with less than one in five citizens voting for them!

    A pre-emptive preferential vote123 ballot, conducted by the electorate itself prior to election day, would show who are the candidates A, B, C… and then permit effective tactical voting in every district on voting day, eliminating the risk of minority supported candidates being returned.

    I have started to do such a project. An outline of the secret paper ballot straw-vote poll methodology is available at: http://www.eduardhiebert.com/ereform/v123p.htm

    For an online method in its infancy of development please see http://www.vote123.ca Do note however, according to Google this site has been compromised, and that you use measures to keep your computer safe. Two ways of creating a firewall is to use http://www.pagewash.com or https://ixquick.com proxy option to safely review pages from the site.

    Towards achieving better democratic countries to the benefit of the 100%.

    I look forward to your considerations.

    Democratically yours,

    Eduard

  5. Raj, You’re onto a great topic. Here’re two leads to robust, but older works, that head strongly in the direction in which I expect you are writing. The first is the fine work by UN RISD on the social consequences of the first green revolution. To start, I recommend is Andrew Pearse’s “Seeds of Plenty, Seeds of Want. Social and Economic Implications of the Green Revolution” (1980). Pearse was a principal investigator under Solon Barraclaugh of UN RISD’s multi-year study of that 1st “revolution.” They found that it focused on the technology of production without addressing distribution to the hungry in the producing countries. They also found that it led to the further concentration of land and capital, and the displacement of subsistence farmers to more marginal lands. I don’t remember whether they compared production using both of two key measures: production per worker (preferred by capitalists) versus production per hectare (my preference), but I hope they did. This leads to my second lead for you. In the 1960s, Barraclaugh studied land tenure in So. America for the FAO (and US AID? in the days when they pressed for land reform to impede communist organizing). He came to the dramatic conclusion that on small holdings, production per hectare (NOT per worker), was multiples higher than on the latifunda. His conclusion was so shocking to those owners that they successfully snuffed out wider distribution of his reports. If my clues are insufficient, don’t hesitate to email me for more details; at the moment, I’m on the run. Peter

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