a meme that isn’t true

Kevin Carson:

The Green Revolution Saved Lives?

The very claim that [The Green Revolution] “saved a billion lives” starts from a false assumption: that the main cause of Third World starvation was economic, rather than political.

It assumes that starvation resulted mainly from insufficient production, from a lack of land, or from the inadequacy of farming techniques.

In fact, the main cause of Third World starvation was what Franz Oppenheimer called “political appropriation of the land”: great landlords and landed oligarchs holding fertile land out of cultivation altogether, or tractoring off peasant smallholders so the land could be used to grow cash crops for export.

The real source of starvation is the hundreds of millions of people living in shantytowns who might otherwise be supporting themselves on their own land, but who now can’t afford the “more efficient” crops produced on their former land at any price, because they don’t have any money.