The main difference between green revolution and gene revolution is that the green revolution was the result of an intensive plant breeding programs relied on the traditional breeding methods whereas the gene revolution is the result of manipulated crop characteristics based on the microbiological techniques.
Green revolution and gene revolution were two waves of the development in agricultural technology during the past four decades. The green revolution began with the spread of new wheat from Mexico and rice from the Philippines while the gene revolution began with the production of the first transgenic plant, the herbicide-resistant tobacco in the USA.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Green Revolution
– Definition, Evolution, Drawbacks
2. What is Gene Revolution
– Definition, Evolution, Drawbacks
3. What are the Similarities Between Green Revolution and Gene Revolution
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Green Revolution and Gene Revolution
– Comparison of Key Differences
Biotechnology, Gene Revolution, GMOs, Green Revolution, Traditional Breeding Methods
What is Green Revolution
The green revolution was a development of the agriculture field as the result of intensive plant breeding programs. The applications of the traditional breeding methods resulted in the green revolution. In 1943, the Rockefeller Foundation set up a research project in Northern Mexico in collaboration with the Mexican government in order to improve the local wheat varieties. The research station was C.I.M.M.Y.T, and it began to release seeds to the world in 1960. Later in 1970, its director won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.
Also in 1960, the I.R.R.I. (International Rice Research Institute) was founded in the Philippines with the financial backing from Rockefeller and Ford Foundations. They collected rice varieties from all over the world, making a seed bank. They released a crossed rice variety called the ‘Miracle rice’, which was a combination of the two rice varieties: Petan and Dee-geo-woo-gen. It showed several desirable characteristics.
The green revolution had four phases. The phase one was during the 1960s when the miracle rice was spread. Phase two was in the early 1970s when small the marginal farmers got fewer positive results while rich farmers got very positive results of the green revolution. The third phase was in the late 1970s when small farmers began adopting high yield varieties (H.Y.Vs). Phase four was in the 1980s and 1990s. By this time, it was realized that traditional breeding methods on which green revolution was based on, nearing their ceiling for increasing production and the production could not be improved, even with the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Some high-level technologies including tissue culture (used for micropropagation) and embryo transfer (E.T.) (used for the transfer of genetic material in livestock breeding) also failed. Then, gene revolution began in the 1990s.
What is Gene Revolution
Gene revolution is the upcoming technological development in the agricultural field. It is based on biotechnology where microbiological methods can be applied. It began in the 1990s with the failure of the green revolution to improve the agricultural yield. The key components of biotechnology used in gene revolution include genomics for the mapping of genomes, bioinformatics for the assembly of the genomic data in an accessible way, transformation to insert beneficial genes, molecular breeding to identify beneficial genetic traits, diagnostics to identify pathogens in the molecular level, and vaccines to control diseases.
During gene revolution, genetic engineering was employed to produce GMOs with desirable characteristics. Here, either the ‘gene gun’ method or the gene transfer through Agrobacterium was used to introduce new genes. In 1983, the first transgenic tobacco plant was produced in the USA. After that, around 25,000 different field trials were carried out; this included more than 60 crops in 45 different countries throughout the world from 1987 to 1997. The global market for biotechnology was over 15 billion dollars by 1999. Some of the commercial transgenic crops by 1998 were the herbicide-resistant soybean, Bt maize, insect-resistant/herbicide-resistant cotton, herbicide-resistant oilseed rape, herbicide-resistant maize, etc.
But by 1999, a major debate focusing on the environmental and human health impacts of genetically-modified food arose in the UK and several other countries. This had a huge effect on genetically-modified products internationally.
Similarities Between Green Revolution and Gene Revolution
- Green revolution and gene revolution are two periods of agricultural development with technology.
- Both helped to improve the amount and the quality of the yield.
- But, they had some drawbacks, which brought them to the end.
Difference Between Green Revolution and Gene Revolution
Green revolution refers to a large increase in crop production in developing countries achieved by the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and high-yield crop varieties while gene revolution refers to a phase following the green revolution during which agricultural biotechnology was heavily implemented. Thus, this is the basic difference between green revolution and gene revolution.
Based on the period of revolution, the difference between green revolution and gene revolution is that the green revolution occurred from 1960 to 1990 while the gene revolution occurred from 1990-1999.
While green revolution was based on traditional breeding methods, gene revolution was based on biotechnology. This is a major difference between green revolution and gene revolution.
Types of Technology
Another difference between green revolution and gene revolution is that green revolution used technologies such as crossbreeding, tissue culture, and embryo transfer while gene revolution used technologies such as gene gun, and, Agrobacterium-mediated gene transfer.
Furthermore, the technologies involved in the green revolution were at the genetic level while the technologies involved in the gene revolution were at the molecular level.
Commercially Available Products
The two main commercialized products of the green technology are various wheat varieties and miracle rice while some commercialized products of the gene revolution include herbicide-resistant soybean, Bt maize, insect-resistant/herbicide-resistant cotton, herbicide-resistant oilseed rape, herbicide-resistant maize, etc.
The main drawback of the green revolution was the inability of the traditional breeding methods to improve the yield above a particular level while the main drawback of the gene revolution was the impact of the GMOs on the environment and human health.
In breif, the green revolution was the result of the use of the traditional breeding methods to agriculture in order to increase the yield. It first began in Mexico and the Philippines in the 1960s with wheat and miracle rice respectively. But, when the traditional breeding methods could not improve the yield any more, the gene revolution began in the 1990s. The gene revolution was based on the biotechnology, which could help to manipulate the genome. It produced GMOs. But again, a debate came on the impact of GMOs on the environment and human health. Therefore, in conclusion, the main difference between green revolution and gene revolution is the type of technology used.
1. Peter Atkins and Ian Bowler (2001) Food in society: economy, culture, geography London: Arnold. Available Here
1. “Wheat-haHula-ISRAEL2” By I, Modifications made by CarolSpears. (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Breeding transgenesis cisgenesis” By Smartse (talk) – Own work (Original text: I created this work entirely by myself.) (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia