The Green Revolution versus Health and Environment

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What is the Green Revolution?

The Green Revolution is simply a strategy to improve agricultural yields to sustain food for all. It had its origin after the Second World War when more than 4 millions of people died in the Bengal famine in 1943. The basic idea behind this revolution is to yield more crops per hectare by using genetically modified (HYV) seeds, supply water through irrigation for double cropping and application of machineries in agriculture so that bigger areas of land can be cultivated.

For what reasons did India introduce the Green Revolution?

In order to make sure that no such famine like the ones that happened in Bengal repeats in India, the Government of India initiated the Green revolution. It was a huge success in India however; it was not equally successful in the rest of South-east Asian countries. India became almost self-sufficient after the implementation of Green Revolution in mainland India, which are the food producing states of the country.

Also read: Agricultural Practices Before and After the Green Revolution

Some positive effects of the Green Revolution

Although there are still millions who are hungry for food, the coming of the Green Revolution has subsided hunger in many states of India. The price of foodstuff has become cheaper and therefore, more people can effort to buy it. The incomes of the farmers were improved and therefore they had more purchasing capacity. Economically, India became one of the third world countries who became almost self sufficient in foodstuffs.

Impact of the Green Revolution on water table

In spite of the huge success of the Green revolution in India, it is not without adverse effects. An in depth research shows that the water table of the earth is badly affected by implementation of the Green Revolution in some states of India.

In fact, 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water and out of which only 2.5% is fresh water. It is found mostly in Polar Regions in Antarctica and Greenland. Thus, less than one per cent of fresh water is readily available for human consumption. Now, when the Green Revolution was implemented in some states, hand pumps were introduced for feeding water to their fields because HYV seeds require water three times more than traditional farming does. Water sources from irrigation does not suffice the needs because it was able to fed only 17% of the cultivated areas.

In order to make the Green revolution a reality, more hand pumps were introduced in different states, which contribute in depletion of ground water.

Our surface of the earth needs to recharge with water at 15 MAF so that the water table remains constant for our needs and requirements. However, maximum numbers of hand pumps and tube wells were introduced in agro-industrial regions, which deplete the surface water more than it can recharge. It utilizes 35 MAF annually, which is double the earth’s surface can recharge. Therefore, the water table keeps reducing at the rate of ten to thirty feet per year, which gives rise to conflicts for various issues.

Before the introduction of the Green Revolution, villagers used to get water from their shallow wells, which were almost fresh, but now, it has to dig deep wells and get water, which is rich in arsenic. Farmers use this water for drinking purposes as well as for farming.

Impact of the Green Revolution on health

The content of arsenic in water is harmful for our health as well as vegetables. It absorbs easily in leafy vegetables and therefore, its consumption is equally harmful for us. Arsenic water consumption has severe affects on our health. A few harmful effects include skin lesions, bladder cancer, kidney failure, abdominal pain, vomiting, dryness, tightness in throat, cramps and clammy sweats etc.

After five years of arsenic water consumption, the person is likely to have prostate cancer, immunological disorder, reproductive problems, lung cancer and even limb loss etc. to mention a few.

Villages where Green Revolution was implemented never had the history of skin lesions, which means it comes from deep tube wells containing arsenic in the water. If it is not treated in time, the consequence is fatal. This is the result of Green Revolution on our health.

Also Read: A Musical Way to Inspire Green Revolution

Effect of the Green Revolution in our environment

With the coming of the Green revolution, HYV seeds not only require more water but it requires fertilizers and insecticides as well. Application of fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides adversely affect the soil, which results into loss of fertility. Once fertilizers and insecticides are used, it seeps into the surface of the earth and pollutes the underground water. However, farmers are compelled to use it on regular basis in order to maintain volume of harvest.

Birds and animals are also affected by the use of fertilizers in our farms. Not all insects are harmful but it affects equally to all beneficial insects as well. When they are affected, the consumers are also affected indirectly.

Rice, maize, wheat, tomatoes, potatoes and almost any kind of food crops, which we consume, affects our health. Human beings are more prone to illness of various diseases due to consumption of inorganic food crops. All these come from the Green Revolution.


There are many positive results of the implementation of the Green revolution in terms of the abundant availability of food crops at a cheaper price. The problem of hunger in the country has reduced drastically. It brings smile into the face of the poor because they have more purchasing capacity compared to the days before the advent of the Green Revolution. However, considering the negative impacts on health and environment, India needs to reconsider the application of the strategies of the Green revolution all over India. Some measures and steps after in depth research need to take up to save our health and environment. After all, what is the meaning of life if you are not healthy? The steps taken up should include saving our environment from contamination and pollution while we also embrace the Green Revolution.