Hidden Downsides of the Green Revolution: Biodiversity Loss and Diseases of Civilization

With the horticultural shift of the Green Revolution, industrial agriculture has been producing more calories than ever, but the lack of micronutrients in the resulting diet is causing widespread disease.

Industrial agriculture displaces the connections we feel with the Earth, with our food, and with each other.
Photo by First Light/John Birdsall
Modern cereal varieties are bred to utilize synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, the manufacture of which pollutes land, air and sea.
Photo by Dreamstime/Cezar Buliga
Despite a nine-fold increase in fertilizer application over the last 50 years, cereal production has only tripled, and that increase is due to manifold factors, including better rotation practices.
Graph by United Nations Environment Programme
The deep roots of this mature heritage wheat cultivar, 'Turkey Red,' were sketched in 1926; the dense root tangle extends down more than six feet.
Illustration by John E. Weaver
Perennial grasses, such as wheat relative Kernza (left), put down strong, deep roots, unlike the modern semi-dwarf wheat varieties (right) that make up our diet.
Photo by John E. Weaver
Modern agriculture is efficient at producing and distributing calories, at the cost of fossil fuel use, heavy machine manufacturing, soil erosion and biodiversity loss.
Photo by SuperStock/Tips Images
Industrial agriculture produces great quantities of grain, but we're losing the nutrition and resilience of traditional crop varieties, like those harvested by these women in Tamil Nadu, India.
Photo by First Light/Environmental Images
At 18 years old, this grass-fed Angus is still nursing and calving. Industrially raised, grain-fed cows are worn out and slaughtered at a much younger age.
Photo by Will Winter
Because of the process of bio-accumulation, meat from free- and wide-ranging animals provides a variety of minerals and micronutrients, crucial elements for human health.
Photo by Dreamstime/Zepherwind

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