New Wheats and Social Progress

Science  04 Sep 1970:
Vol. 169, Issue 3949, pp. 952-955
DOI: 10.1126/science.169.3949.952


Will the upward trend in all food production, so dramatically exemplified by the new wheats, be adequate to meet the needs of the growing population? Yes, for a while. No one knows for how long (14). The prophets of doom will undeniably be proved right in the long run unless their basic assumptions are nullified by concrete acts, and soon. At some point in time, either a zero population growth must be achieved or vast new sources of food must be developed, and purchasing power increased. There is nothing on the research horizon to reject "a prodigious need for mankind to practice human husbandry" (12). Our waste products have reached levels that cause major concern, and it may well be that both agricultural and social advancement will be halted by the demands dictated by population growth and the by-products of what now passes for progress but also brings environmental unbalance (15). At least, life will be different, and it may be catastrophic (16, 28). The "Three Ancients" (29) who helped plan and then, after a quarter of a century, reviewed the agricultural research and development work of the Rockefeller Foundation in developing nations concluded:

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