Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Statistical Look at Rural Jalisco, Mexico

I've spent the past several days going through statistical data about the Mexican villages I visited in the municipality of Cuquio, in the state of Jalisco. I've presented the data below in as clear a way as I could. It covers population, employment, income, health care, literacy, education, housing, utilities, and technology. Enjoy!


The Mexican state of Jalisco
Percent Born in Jalisco84.8%84.4%
Percent born outside Jalisco13.4%13.1%
*Unless noted, where figures do not add up to 100% it is because there is a small percent of the population that is "Not Specified."

Cuquio: A municipality within Jalisco
(A municipality is a Mexican government district that is roughly equivalent to a county. Each municipality is a city plus the surrounding rural area, including many villages.)

Born in Jalisco94.6%94.6%
Born outside Jalisco3.5%3%

Ojo de Agua Colorada
Ojo de Agua Colorada is a small village, or "rancho," within the municipality of Cuquio. As you can see, the population decreased substantially in the 1990s and increased slightly since 2000. More men have left than women, and as you'll see below, over 30 percent of homes were vacant in 2010. Sadly, as you'll see, the men leave to find work elsewhere (often in the U.S.) as young as age 12. U.S. child labor laws do not apply in agriculture. The rate at which people are leaving this town are even greater if you consider that there are about 5 kids born per year.

Percent born in Jalisco96.794.5
Born outside Jalisco0.81.2

Of the 253 people remaining in the town, they break down as follows:
  • Ages 4 and under: 34 people (13.4%)
  • Ages 5 to 11: 40 people (15.8%)
  • Teens (12-17): 31 people (12.3%) - 11 men, 20 women
  • Adults (18-59): 113 people (44.7%) - 51 men, 62 women
  • Elderly (60 and up): 35 people (13.8%) - 17 men, 18 women

Los Sauces de Perez
Los Sauces de Perez is another small rancho in Cuquio I visited. The population here has actually grown in the last decade, but if you look at the gender ratio of adults, you'll see that there are 33 men ages 18 to 59 compared with 43 women. The 1990 data spreadsheet did not include any data for Los Sauces de Perez. I think they actually included the data, just under the wrong town's name, but I could not be sure so I did not include it.

Born in Jalisco99.5%97%
Born outside Jalisco00

Of the 202 people in the town, they break down as follows:
  • Ages 4 and under: 24 people (11.9%)
  • Ages 5 to 11: 44 people (21.8%)
  • Teens (12-17): 39 people (19.3%) - 22 men, 17 women
  • Adults (18-59): 76 people (39.1%) - 33 men, 43 women
  • Elderly (60 and up): 19 people (9.4%) - 10 men, 9 women

Varas Dulces
Varas Dulces is the third rancho in Cuquio I've included data for here. It is located very close to Ojo de Agua Colorada. The population of Varas Dulces shrunk during the 1990s but increased very slightly in the last decade. The gender imbalance is not so severe here, as there are 51 men ages 18 to 59 compared to 54 women.

Born in Jalisco95%98.4%
Born outside Jalisco2.2%0.5%

Of the 183 people remaining in the town, they break down as follows:
  • Ages 4 and under: 19 people (10.4%)
  • Ages 5 to 11: 18 people (9.8%)
  • Teens (12-17): 24 people (13.1%) - 15 men, 9 women
  • Adults (18-59): 105 people (57.4%) - 51 men, 54 women
  • Elderly (60 and up): 17 people (9.3%) - 9 men, 8 women

Average number of live births for women over age 12 in 2010:
  • Jalisco: 2.38
  • Cuquio: 3
  • Ojo de Agua Colorada: 3.48
  • Los Sauces de Perez: 3.73
  • Varas Dulces: 2.68

(The data here understates the big families by averaging all women over age 12. Women don't all start their families as young as 12, and even those who will eventually go on to have many children don't do so instantaneously at the start of their childbearing years. I've seen families wit up to 13 kids in Jalisco, and I've routinely seen families with more than 9 kids. That doesn't mean that the younger generation wants to have as many kids as their parents did, but they also haven't had enough time to do so just yet.)

Health Care
Either the 2010 spreadsheet had its columns mislabeled or Mexico has seen a huge increase in health coverage over the past decade. I double and triple checked the spreadsheets to make sure that I was reporting their data correctly. I am. But I'm still not certain they are correct.

Percent of population without healthcare53.834.5
Percent with healthcare44.364.1
Percent with IMSS41.241.4
Percent with ISSSTE2.72.7

Percent of population without healthcare8732.9
With healthcare10.466.4
With IMSS7.74.7
With ISSSTE2.72.7

Ojo de Agua Colorada
Percent of population without healthcare97.928.1
With healthcare071.9
With IMSS00.8

Los Sauces de Perez
Percent of population without healthcare93.911.4
With healthcare5.688.6
With IMSS5.60

Varas Dulces
Percent of population without healthcare95.614.8
With healthcare1.185.2
With IMSS1.10

The following shows the percent of the population over age 15 that cannot read and write.

Ojo de Agua Colorada42.635.421.8
Los Sauces de Perez21.415.8
Varas Dulces34.727.218

The same information, in a graph:

The following only measures population over the age of 15, reflecting the highest level of education achieved. All numbers are percentages. Primary school is grades 1-6. Secondary school is the equivalent of junior high. Mexicans attend high school after secondary school.

No schooling11.58.15.5
Incomplete primary23.918.412.6
Complete primary21.721.617.6
Some post primary education41.451.164.3
Incomplete secondary5.45.5
Complete secondary18.522
Education above secondary27.236.8

No schooling22.618.812.8
Incomplete primary38.731.824
Complete primary24.129.227.8
Some post primary education11.319.6
Incomplete secondary4.55
Complete secondary8.816.8
Education above secondary6.913.6

Ojo de Agua Colorada
No schooling5040.326.1
Incomplete primary22.327.123
Complete primary16.926.425.5
Some post primary education4.76.3
Incomplete secondary2.16.1
Complete secondary3.515.8

Los Sauces de Perez
No schooling31.322.8
Incomplete Primary33.930.7
Complete Primary3333.3
Incomplete Secondary0.93.5
Complete Secondary0.99.6

Varas Dulces
No schooling5041.219.5
Incomplete primary23.718.419.5
Complete primary24.636.819.5
Some post primary1.74
Incomplete secondary3.55.3
Complete secondary024.1

Average highest grade of schooling achieved by population over 15 in 2010:
  • Jalisco: 8.78
  • Cuquio: 5.95
  • Ojo de Agua Colorada: 4.41
  • Los Sauces de Perez: 3.97
  • Varas Dulces: 5.73

Put a different way, here is the highest grade level achieved by the population over age 15 of these three villages for 2010. "Other" means either "did not respond" or "went to high school" and I don't know which.

If you look at the numbers a different way, just looking at how many people TOTAL went to primary school, secondary, etc (i.e. not tallying highest grade achieved), here's how it looks over the last 2 decades for populations over age 15 of the three villages:

Here, all numbers are for people over the age of 12. Economically active means working or looking for work. I've calculated employment as the percent of those who are economically active who are employed. I've calculated the percent employed in agriculture as a percent of the employed population.

Economically active44.852.655.8
Economically inactive55.247.143.6
Employed in agriculture15.110

Economically active34.336.842.5
Economically inactive65.762.657.5
Employed in agriculture67.952.3

Ojo de Agua Colorada
Economically active28.822.931.2
Economically inactive71.376.568.8
Employed in agriculture59.162.9

Los Sauces de Perez
Economically active37.129.5
Economically inactive62.970.5
Employed in Agriculture86.7

Varas Dulces
Economically active34.326.933.3
Economically inactive65.773.166.7
Employed in agriculture95.791.7

This table shows income levels in the year 2000. All numbers are expressed as a percent of the employed population.

JaliscoCuquioOjo de Agua ColoradaLos Sauces de PerezVaras Dulces
Employed, no income5.633.745.751.155.6
Less than minimum wage0.810.5204.416.7
1-2 times minimum wage27.224.425.715.619.4
2-5 times minimum wage40.820.75.711.10
6-10 minimum wage8.72.8000
10+ minimum wage3.90.8000

Homes and Utilities

In 2010, the Mexican government began reporting on the percent of occupied vs. unoccupied homes. The third category, which accounts for any failure for the numbers to add up to 100%, are homes that are temporarily occupied for part of the year.

JaliscoCuquioOjo de Agua ColoradaLos Sauces de PerezVaras Dulces
Uninhabited Homes15.7%21%30.3%1.9%5.6%
Homes with full-time Occupants78.8%72.5%68.5%78.8%87%

Average Number of Occupants Per Home 2010
  • Jalisco: 4.01
  • Cuquio: 3.97
  • Ojo de Agua Colorada: 4.15
  • Los Sauces de Perez: 4.93
  • Varas Dulces: 3.89

Percent of homes that in 2010...
JaliscoCuquioOjo de Agua ColoradaLos Sauces de PerezVaras Dulces
Have a dirt floor34.311.52.412.8
Have only 1 room3.31.5000
Have a toilet97.691.385.282.972.3
Have running water94.251.3046.323.4
Have drainage97.390.488.57870.2
Have electricity98.998.598.497.6100
Have a fridge92.78790.285.493.6
Have a TV96.994.896.785.497.9
Have a car57.168.867.251.270.2
Have a phone55.229.96.602.1
Have a computer36.211.26.600
Have a cell phone75.460.765.658.553.2
Have Internet275.2000

Here's a graph that shows the same information for the three villages (not Jalisco or Cuquio) in 2010:

Percent of houses in Cuquio that...
Don't have a dirt floor60.677.195.4
Have a toilet67.791.3
Have running water29.243.451.3
Have drainage26.459.590.4
Have electricity66.994.198.5
Have a fridge59.587
Have a TV89.494.8
Have a car42.568.8
Have a phone16.229.9
Average # of occupants per home5.34.593.97

Percent of houses in Ojo de Agua Colorada that...
Don't have a dirt floor15.848.288.5
Have a toilet39.385.2
Have running water08.90
Have drainage5.332.188.5
Have electricity38.694.698.4
Have a fridge51.890.2
Have a TV85.796.7
Have a car21.467.2
Have a phone12.56.6
Average # of occupants per home5.294.234.15

Percent of houses in Los Sauces de Perez that...
Don't have a dirt floor63.497.6
Have a toilet34.182.9
Have running water9.846.3
Have drainage14.678
Have electricity97.697.6
Have a fridge43.985.4
Have a TV75.685.4
Have a car24.451.2
Have a phone00
Avg # occupants per home4.784.93

Percent of houses in Varas Dulces that...
Don't have a dirt floor38.538.287.2
Have a toilet20.672.3
Have running water12.858.823.4
Have drainage7.78.870.2
Have electricity097.1100
Have a fridge52.993.6
Have a TV94.197.9
Have a car38.270.2
Have a phone02.1
Avg # occupants per home5.235.213.89

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mexican Ag Stats

I decided it would be a good idea to look at the most up to date statistics about the places I visited in Mexico compared to the country as a whole. Below, you'll find statistics taken from the 2007 Agricultural Census, which I've calculated and arranged in tables and graphs to hopefully make easier to understand and compare.

I visited two different states: Jalisco, in West Central Mexico, and Chiapas, Mexico's Southernmost state. Chiapas is substantially poorer than Jalisco and different in other response as well. I visited one municipality in Jalisco, Cuquio, which was located in the mountains in a subtropical zone. In Chiapas, I traveled all over the state, beginning in San Cristobal de las Casas in the highlands, where you will find cool weather and pine forests, traveling to Palenque in the lowlands, where you will find rainforest if you can locate some that hasn't been cut down yet.

Land Use in Chiapas

From what I observed, there's an awful lot of cattle pasture where there probably ought to be rainforest. This could be better represented by examining land use in only the lowland areas that were originally jungle.

Main Farm Activity
I've focused almost solely on crops instead of livestock here. Here's why I did that:

Lumber0.1%< 0.1%0.1%0%
Gathering Wild Products0.1%0.1%< 0.1%0%


In this question, farms and forestry operations were asked about their main activity, even if they do more than one. A normal farm might spend most of their time and obtain most of their food by growing corn, beans, and squash and maybe a few other things (tomatoes, herbs, peppers, fruit trees) but they might also have some chickens, turkeys, ducks, and maybe something larger like a donkey or even a cow. And they might gather some wild foods or herbal medicines as well. But in this table, they would be counted as agriculture, not livestock or gathering.

Summer Crops
The lowlands of Chiapas can grow 2 corn crops per year, whereas the highlands grow only one. The area I visited in Jalisco grows only one corn crop as well. Thus, I chose to ignore the fall and winter and focus on spring and summer crops only. The biggest omission as a result is that there is some sesame and oats grown in Chiapas during the winter that don't appear on the graphs. Also, the significance of sorghum is that it was introduced as a crop for livestock feed during the Green Revolution.

Summer Crops in Chiapas

Summer Crops in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas (Highlands)

Summer Crops in Palenque, Chiapas (Tropical Lowlands)

Summer Crops in Cuquio
Note: Agave grown in Jalisco is for tequila.

Average Farm Size
Mexico: 16.8 hectares
Chiapas: 7.5 hectares
Jalisco: 20.9 hectares
Cuquio: 14.8 hectares

I believe much of Mexico's irrigated land is concentrated in the northern states. This is likely for two reasons: first, they have less rainfall and more need for irrigation; and second, they tend to have more large agribusiness operations.

Percent of Farms with Some Irrigation
Mexico: 16.8%
Chiapas: 3.7%
Jalisco: 21.4%
Cuquio: 7.1%

Percent of Agricultural Land Without Irrigation
Mexico: 82.2%
Chiapas: 97.9%
Jalisco: 88.7%
Cuquio: 95%

Type of Traction
A major difference between the two places in Mexico I visited is the percent of farmers who use tractors or animal traction versus those who use manual labor alone. Check it out:

Only Mechanical Traction30.4%10.7%58.6%59.4%
Only Animal Traction17.1%3.1%8.2%21.3%
Only hand tools33.7%74.3%21.1%7.5%

Of Those Who Use a Tractor, What Percent Rents vs. Owns the Tractor?
Group refers to group ownership of a tractor.

Borrow0.9%< 0.1%0.3%0.5%
Group0.2%< 0.1%< 0.1%0%

Agricultural Technology
Mexico measures how many farmers are "technology" users. You can tell they have a bias toward what constitutes "technology" as intercropping or other sophisticated agroecological methods are not included on their list. The following table shows the percent of farmers who use any technology at all first, followed by how many use each technology. The first column shows the entire country, followed by the two states I visited, and last, the municipality I visited in Jalisco (Cuquio).

Technology Users40.7%13.9%61.6%83.2%
Chemical Fertilizer34.3%12.9%56.9%82.5%
Improved Seeds10.1%4%31.5%49.4%
Natural Fertilizers7.7%0.7%12%7%
Total Herbicides18.1%10.8%48%71.8%
Chemical Herbicides17.5%10.5%46.8%70.5%
Organic Herbicide1.2%0.7%3.4%3.5%
Total Insecticides11.1%7.8%36.6%58.7%
Chemical Insecticides11%7.7%36.3%58.6%
Organic Insecticides0.2%0.1%0.8%0.2%
Controlled Burn2.3%1.9%4.9%2%
Other Technology0.1%< 0.1%< 0.1%0%

Farmers with Credit or Insurance

Credit Only3.6%1.7%11%17.1%
Insurance Only0.3%0.2%0.5%0.6%

Sources of Farmer Income
The following table shows what percent of farmers receive money from agriculture, government support, friends or relatives abroad, or other sources. Other sources could be an off-the-farm job (one woman I met had a daughter working in a shoe factory) or selling handicrafts, a common practice I observed in Chiapas. The lack of government support in Chiapas should not be taken as indicative of a lack of need. Zapatistas reject all forms of government help or intervention, so the low percent of farmers receiving government aid should be seen as a mark of Zapatista strength.

Relatives Abroad4.2%1.1%7.6%16.3%
Govt Support9%5.7%9.1%10.7%

Who sends money from abroad?
This one is interesting, mostly because of the difference between places in how many spouses vs. children send money home. Being a parent with a grown child is in the U.S. is far preferable to being a wife with a husband in the U.S. (or vice versa). The data here is of a sub-set of the population. Of the people who receive money from abroad, here is the percent that receives money from each of the following family members:

Other Relative2.1%2.9%2.2%2.2%

Farmers by Sex
Mostly men...

Farmers' Education Level
Here's a pie chart that shows the highest level of education of farmers in all of Mexico:

The numbers for each of the places I visited are not substantially different from Mexico as a whole.

At Least Some Education72.8%68.3%77.3%75.7%
No Education27.2%31.7%22.7%24.3%
Less than Primary0.8%0.8%1%0.8%
High School2.9%2.5%3.2%1.5%

Farmers' Living Conditions
The next table shows farmers' living conditions. I am fairly certain that the reference to the floor means "anything but a dirt floor" and the reference to walls means "anything other than adobe." I met plenty of people without most of the items on this list, the exception being electricity. The electricity might be limited or unreliable and in many cases they only got it within the last 20 years, but I believe every family I visited had electricity. Also, note that hot water is not on the list. I don't think many people have that. Nor do many have potable water. Last, the gas for cooking is very important, not only because it means you don't have to chop or buy firewood and spend time building fires, but it also means you don't have to breathe in smoke, which is very bad for you.

Piped Water77.4%73.2%90.4%40.1%
Sewer or Septic Tank58.4%54.9%90.7%85.6%
Gas for Cooking59.5%27.3%87.4%94.7%
Toilet, Latrine or Cesspool72.7%62.7%78.4%74.6%
Cement or Wood Floor81.1%71.6%92%95%
Masonry or Brick Walls78.7%70.2%90.6%95.5%

Family Help on the Farm
Many farms are family operations, and even the kids sometimes help. Here's a breakdown of the age and sex of family help on the farm. And I believe this excludes the actual farmer and just counts the farmers' family who helps on the farm.

Boys Under 123.9%6.2%4%5%
Girls Under 122.4%4.5%1.9%2.3%
Boys 12-1812.4%16.7%14.4%15.4%
Girls 12-185.5%6.2%4.7%9.5%
Men 18-6050.6%46.3%57.2%34.9%
Women 18-6022.5%18.2%15.3%31.4%
Men Over 601.6%1.1%1.9%0.9%
Women Over 601.1%0.7%0.7%0.5%

Percent of Farmers Who Speak an Indigenous Language
Note that this measures how many speak an indigenous language, not how many have indigenous ancestry. Also, because of the Zapatista quest for autonomy from the Mexican government, you have to wonder how many of them actually responded to the 2007 Ag Census. And if that's the case, then the percent of farmers who speak an indigenous language in Chiapas might be understated here.

Hope you've enjoyed this look at Mexico by its statistics. My next project will be to dig into regular census data about poverty to see what's been happening over time in these two different areas. Are the purchased farm inputs getting people out of poverty in Jalisco or no? And how is the lack of those things impacting poverty in Chiapas?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bruce H. Jennings and the Green Revolution, Part 3

In this diary, I'd like to continue summarizing the book Foundations of International Agricultural Research: Science and Politics in Mexican Agriculture by Bruce H. Jennings, which is essential for anyone seeking to understand the Green Revolution.

In previous chapters, Jennings examines the Rockefeller Foundation in general and then their work in Mexican agriculture from 1940-1950. In this chapter, he takes on their work in Mexico from 1950-1960. A summary of his findings follows.

Just to provide some context, Norman Borlaug arrived in Mexico in the early 1940's. He achieved his breakthrough in wheat breeding in 1961. So the decade of 1950-1960 is after he began his work but before his wheat spread around Mexico and around the world. It was shortly after his success with wheat that the Rockefeller Foundation joined with the Ford Foundation to fund rice research in the Philippines and when countries around the world, perhaps most famously India and Pakistan, began planting his wheat.

Jennings begins this chapter saying:

A distinguishing trait of the techniques introduced by U.S. agricultural scientists to Mexico in the 1940s and 1950s was the image of neutrality...

Such a language distorted the impact that U.S. scientists had in Mexico. Landscapes in twentieth century Mexico held not just soil, plants, and farms, but people. - p. 63

He goes say that the research in Mexico was "economic and class bound" and that "This was a science in service to capitalist agriculture." (p. 63)

After noting that the scientists "clinical language of the laboratory disguised and made remote the social meaning of their tasks in farmers' fields," (p. 64) he adds:

That does not mean that Foundation scientists remained oblivious to the social context... The idea that research as constructed in the United States and reconstructed in Mexico might produce contradictory relations between private ends (e.g., capital) and public ones (e.g., food) did not seem possible. Even if particular farmers, those willing to take 'risks,' gained disproportionately in the spread of techniques, other members of society still gained by cheaper foods. - p. 64

The details provided in this chapter are nothing short of jaw-dropping, particularly if you've been to Mexico and seen peasant agriculture. (If you haven't, you can get a taste of it from my Mexico diaries, but in short, the peasant diet is corn, beans, and squash, and the three crops are grown together as a polyculture. Often there is little or nothing beyond the amount the family needs as food each year, making the family unable to sell any of the crop for income. Also, many do not buy hybrid seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, or machinery such as a tractor because they cannot afford it.)

This chapter is organized by research station and the crops grown at each. The research stations formed and then worked with producer associations called patronatos. Interestingly (well, horrifyingly), the scientists "described the common farmer as a problem" (p. 65). In one instance, Dr. Ed J. Wellhausen complains of a farmer who only planted rice on half of his land. When Wellhausen suggested he plant the entire area in rice, the farmer said he didn't need that much. Wellhausen suggested selling it. The farmer replied that would have to do a lot of work to grow the extra rice and then he would receive very little pay for it. Wellhausen saw this farmer - and those like him - as a problem because "they aren't thinking in commercial terms." (p. 66) Jennings adds:

Before MAP scientists realized this structure of research it would be necessary to defeat the community of indigenous scientists who attempted to redirect the social control of research toward the campesino. - p. 67

"Without simply taking 'orders' from the Rockefeller Foundation, MAP scientists tacitly approved the connection -- science and capitalism -- that represented the basis for their work in Mexico." (p. 65)

El Horno, Chapingo (State of Mexico): Corn
El Horno ("The Oven") was the first research station established. There, Dr. Ed J. Wellhausen and others researched corn. After collecting over 2000 strains of native corn from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, they narrowed them down to sixteen they felt "possessed superior yield characteristics" and ultimately produced six varieties for distribution to farmers during the 1940s. (p. 67)

Additionally, they convinced the Mexican government to create PRONASE, a national seed production and distribution center, in 1948. PRONASE, like MAP, promoted hybrid corn. However, most farmers could not afford hybrids because they could not afford new seed each season (p. 67). Because of this, Wellhausen et al also produced "improved varieties" (presumably open pollinated) which farmers could use seed from a past harvest and still get a good yield from it. Jennings writes:

Initial population improvements of maize by the MAP contained characteristics valued by many peasant agriculturalists, such as greater forage material (for feed) and prolificacy (greater number of ears per plant). However, even these improved populations often possessed traits that nullified their potential benefits to subsistence producers. - p. 68

As an example, Jennings cites one such variety of corn that can only grow in areas with sufficient rainfall or irrigation. By 1950, only 8 percent of corn grown in Mexico came from MAP's improved varieties and hybrids.

Even more outrageous is that MAP, under the leadership of George Harrar, did not place a great priority on corn at all (at least, not one that is proportional to corn in the Mexican diet). MAP promoted corn as a "cattle feed and industrial grain." And MAP scientists "ignored the traditional practice of intercropping maize with beans, promoting monoculture instead." (p. 68)

In 1952, Mexico swapped out President Miguel Aleman for President Rodolfo Ruiz Cortinez. Cortinez brought in a new Minister of Agriculture, Flores Munoz. Munoz "challenged the research agenda set by MAP scientists." (p. 68) Munoz called for a rapid increase in corn production, which MAP scientists did not see as so urgent. Also, Munoz placed MAP and its Office of Special Studies (OSS or OEE in Spanish - Oficina de Estudios Especiales) under his direct control, which did not make the MAP folks happy. They dismissed the warning about insufficient maize production as a myth. Noting that the years between 1953-1957 saw a 40 percent increase in corn prices and record levels of imports, Jennings says: "The major concern of MAP rested not with the public health of Mexicans, but maintaining control over research agendas." (p. 71)

It wasn't just Munoz vs. MAP, however. Another research branch of the Ministry of Agriculture, the IIA (Institute of Agricultural Investigations) criticized MAP's focus on irrigated corn in 1955, noting that irrigated corn only accounts for 5.3 percent of Mexico's corn. To pursue an increase in output, scientists would do better to focus on the 94.7 percent of corn grown in non-irrigated regions of Mexico. (p. 70) The IIA put quite a bit of research focus into creating improved varieties that were not hybrids to make them more suitable for adoption by peasants.

Harrar and Warren Weaver, unhappy with Munoz, got Dean Rusk, President of the Rockefeller Foundation at that time, to go to Mexico and visit President Cortinez about the matter. Jennings says that Rusk "secured President Cortinez' commitment to MAP autonomy." He adds: "By 1954 Dr. Harrar and associates managed to overtake Flores Munoz through the professional corps of Mexicans trained in the Office of Special Studies." (p. 71-72) In other words, so many employees in Mexico's Ministry of Agriculture had been trained by the Office of Special Studies that any action Munoz tried to take against it would be met with resistance from his own staff. Jennings says "One consequence soon to follow this victory resulted with placing greater resources at the disposal of fewer farmers." (p. 72) He backs that up with the statistic that "by 1956, the Ministry of Agriculture allocated 96 percent of its seed producing capacity for the production of hybrids." (p. 72) Even still, by 1966, only 10 percent of Mexican farmers had adopted hybrids, a low number that reviewers from the Rockefeller Foundation blamed on "lack of an effective production and distribution system for hybrid seed, and the unwillingness of many farmers to replace their seed each year, at relatively higher cost.[25]" (p. 72)

La Cal Grande, first in Guanajuato and moved to El Roque: Sorghum and Barley
In 1948, Cal Grande was established in a region called the Bajio. One of their first projects was on sorghum, which is not a food widely eaten in Mexico. Jennings notes: "in the 1950s, a large part of the budget destined for maize went toward the promotion of sorghum." (p. 72) Additionally:

The test conditions in addition to taking place in the relatively temperate climate of the Bajio also had a plentiful supply of irrigation water. Although sorghum represented a potential contribution to resource poor farmers, the MAP conditioned test materials on resource rich environments. Such experimental conditions supplied scientists with little information about the utility of these sorghum materials in either the climate or conditions under which most of Mexico's agriculturalists labored. - p. 73

The even bigger flaw with sorghum research is that it was not intended for direct human consumption. It was intended for livestock. And most Mexicans could not afford to eat animal products. Yet, in 1959, MAP relocated Cal Grande to El Roque, Guanajuato, where sorghum research could be coordinated with cattle production.

By the early 1960's, sorghum production "expanded dramatically, largely because of its application to feedlots in Mexico." (p. 74) Where sorghum cultivation went up, corn cultivation went down. For farmers, sorghum was cheaper to grow than corn. It made for a cheap feed for livestock, particularly hogs and poultry. The scientists "actively encouraged" feeding sorghum to livestock "with the assumption that this provided a cheaper and more efficient means for producing quality (i.e. high protein) foods." (p. 74) However, as late as the early 1980's, Jennings writes, chicken, pork, and eggs were barely present in the diet of average Mexicans. (That's still basically true today if you're looking at the poor in Mexico.)

Jennings says:

At the same time the Foundation expanded agricultural production in Mexico, it structured utilization according to a logic of profit, not consumption. - p. 74-75

That's likely the most important sentence in this whole chapter.

Cal Grande was also the site for barley research. Prior to MAP, barley was not a major crop or food in Mexico. Some 4 percent of barley went toward malts (probably beer), 65 percent went to livestock, and no more than 10 percent was eaten directly by humans. Despite this, MAP began working with barley in the 1950's. The "impetus" for barley research was the Mexican Association of Malters.

However, with the problems with the Ag Minister (Munoz), they stopped their barley work in 1954. Jennings says "Research on a commodity that not only had limited public benefits but received stimulus from private corporations might well jeopardize MAP's attempt to maintain autonomy with the guise of scientific objectivity." (p 75)

The barley research "sought by malting interests in Mexico" was resumed by early 1957. (p. 76) When it did, it did so in cooperation with the Mexican Association of Malters with two clear aims: malting and feed grains. While barley has some potential to grow under marginal conditions, the varieties pursued were developed for irrigated land and mechanical harvesting.

La Campana, Chihuahua: Livestock and Feed Grains

Jennings says that "it is particularly the livestock/feed complex that had most important consequences for Mexico's food production system." (p. 77) The Mexican government did not promote livestock as a high priority, but MAP did. In 1944, the Mexican & U.S. governments together created the Mexican-United States Agricultural Commission, the purpose of which was to supply food, including beef, to support the war effort. Presumably, increased production in Mexico for consumption in the United States.

A 1951 report by Dr. Herrell De Graff (a consultant to the Rockefeller Foundation's Social Science Division) also promoted increased production of livestock and feed grains. However, the report noted that this would create a competition between use of grains for human food or as livestock feed and that Mexico's poor could not afford animal products.

Despite their enthusiasm, work on livestock went slowly. A forage crop program was established in 1953, and a poultry project in 1955. At a 1956 meeting, Dr. John Pino stated concerns about the wisdom of feeding grains to livestock instead of people. Norman Borlaug expressed concerns about erosion due to overgrazing, suggesting the Foundation support forestation instead of livestock in areas prone to erosion.

By 1956, Drs. Roderic Buller and Pino were working with "one of the largest and most powerful associations of livestock producers in the country," the Livestock Union of Chihuahua. The livestock research station, La Campana, was established by 1958, with pastures and funding provided by the Livestock Union. Recall that the Cal Grande research station moved to El Roque in 1959, a move also intended to work toward feed grain/livestock production.

In 1959, Kenneth L. Turk, a consultant for the Foundation, traveled around Mexico to plan for an expanded livestock program. He met with large landholders, multinational corporations such as Ralston Purina and Carnation, and powerful associations, including the patronatos set up by MAP. Jennings says "He identified research needs of wealthy agriculturalists as the basis for determining the content and direction of research in the animal sciences in Mexico." (p. 81) Turk praised both Ralston Purina and Carnation, despite complaints about them from local farmers. Jennings says, according to Turk, "Farmers angry with these corporations represented a problem to be solved through cooperation with these corporate agribusinesses." (p. 81) The overall decision from Turk's work was "to construct an expanded livestock industry in the Bajio on a collection of large farms linked to multinational corporations." (p. 81-82)

Jennings closes this section by noting that the sum total of the work on livestock was to create a population of animals that requires pastures and feed, often competing with production of food for direct human consumption.

Ciudad Obregon, Sonora: Wheat
If you are familiar with the Mexican countryside, you probably wonder (as I have): why wheat? Mexican peasants don't eat it. Wheat was introduced by the Spanish and it is eaten by the middle and upper classes, primarily in the cities. In the early 1940's, when the wheat program was established, it very well might have had nothing to do with feeding Mexicans at all and much more with supporting the U.S. war effort. After the war, they continued work on wheat in Mexico because they found it important as a "source of pathogens." (p. 83) Specifically, says Jennings, "The ability to monitor and control pathogens in Mexico and Central America amounted to a savings of millions of dollars for wheat producers in the United States and Canada." (p. 84)

Additionally, there was an untapped market for wheat in Mexico, and along with that market there could be a market for everything from "capitalized inputs for producers to milling and baking equipment for processors." (p. 84) Initially, research focused on disease (rust) resistance.

Although traditionally wheat was grown in central Mexico, MAP located its research station in Mexico's northwest. "In addition to climatic factors favoring wheat selection for disease resistance, scientists welcomed the opportunity to expand wheat among Sonora farmers who had access to machinery, credit, and international, as well as national markets.[74]" (p. 84) There, Borlaug worked primarily with "the largest and best financed organization of private producers - the Harvester's Union of Hermosillo" (p. 84). The group also held a considerable bit of political power. In return for MAP's help, in 1954, they provided 100 hectares of land for research, which became, in 1955, the research station at Ciudad Obregon.

Borlaug also worked toward large scale cultivation, processing, and marketing of wheat, including arranging federal support for large amounts of fertilizer and commitments by the government to buy up surpluses. The wheat breeding did not just focus on yield but also on industrial needs. The wheat needed to be able to be planted and harvested mechanically, and it needed to be suitable for large scale commercial milling and baking. Borlaug sent any promising varieties to the USDA for milling and baking quality tests.

In summary, Jennings says that Rockefeller's work with agriculture served "as a means of redefining productive relations according to the interests of capitalists in both the United States and Mexico." (p. 87-88) Jennings also concludes that the scientists proved to be an incredibly effective group to challenge the government on behalf of "parochial, nationalist, and antiquated capitalist interest." (p. 88) He says:

Although political leaders of the 1940s conceived of science and technology as a means of controlling agrarian reform and guiding it toward class interests, by the 1950s scientists represented a force that on certain occasions and in specific settings directed the state towards ends largely defined by their professional, albeit capitalist-bound, interests. - . 89

(Doesn't remind you at all about modern debates over biotechnology, does it?)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Book Review: American Dreamer: A Life of Henry A. Wallace

If you want to understand American agriculture and agricultural policy, then you need to know something about Henry A. Wallace. Henry A. Wallace (1888-1965) was an influential man who came from an influential family. He was the editor of one of the top farm journals in America, Wallaces' Farmer, founded in the late 1800's by his dad and grandfather and still in print to this day; founder of Pioneer Hi-Bred, which commercialized and popularized hybrid corn (also still in existence today but now owned by DuPont); and served as Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, and Vice President under FDR. And if that wasn't enough, he is also credited as the man behind the Green Revolution.

The following is a summary of Wallace's life, using the book American Dreamer: A Life of Henry Wallace by John C. Culver and John Hyde. The book was, on the whole, excellent - but I wish it included more specifics about agriculture!

First, let's look at the two Henry Wallace's before him - his grandfather, Reverend Henry Wallace, and his father, Henry C. Wallace. None of the Henry Wallace's spent much of their lives farming. Reverend Wallace was first a preacher and later, a successful writer in a farm journal. He never held political office himself, but was politically influential and was close friends with influential men - James “Tama Jim” Wilson and Seaman Knapp. Wilson served in Congress and later served under several presidents as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Knapp was a professor of agriculture at Iowa State, and you might remember him from his work with the Rockefeller Foundation.

Henry C. Wallace was a professor at Iowa State but ultimately left to work on Wallaces' Farmer, which he founded with his dad, full time. He founded the American Farm Bureau Federation and he served as Secretary of Agriculture under Harding and briefly under Coolidge.

Like the two Henry Wallaces before him, Henry A. Wallace (who went by H.A. to his friends) devoted much of his life to agriculture but did not rely on farming for his income. As a young boy, he was an avid gardener, fascinated by plant genetics and plant breeding. In high school, this fascination turned its focus to corn. At the time, corn was judged and seed was saved based on looks, not yield. As a high schooler, Wallace took a challenge from a corn expert, taking 33 bags of corn from the expert and setting out to prove that looks were unrelated from yield. Which he successfully did.

After graduating from Iowa State with a degree in livestock, H.A. went into the family business at Wallaces' Farmer. Simultaneously, he pursued his love of corn breeding, and, in 1926, founded Pioneer Hi-Bred. During those years, their market share was tiny and so were their revenues. Some of Wallace's hybrid corn had been sold by another seed company a few years earlier, so it would not be correct to say that Pioneer Hi-Bred was the first to sell hybrid corn... but it would nearly be correct. Especially since Wallace was the corn breeder behind both the earlier hybrid corn and Pioneer Hi-Bred. (I think it's also significant that the open pollinated corn used before hybrids came along was never judged on yield. I've heard some say that if the same amount of research and development was put into open pollinated crop varieties as it is for hybrids, perhaps the difference in yields would not be so stark.)

While his father was Secretary of Agriculture and afterward, H.A. Wallace pushed for economic reforms to agriculture. Ultimately, when he became Secretary of Agriculture in 1933, he was the force behind the first Farm Bill. (Note: He left Wallaces' Farmer and Pioneer Hi-Bred when he became Secretary of Agriculture. He continued to make money off of Pioneer, although he did not make very much from it in the first decade or so.)

The politics behind the passage of the first farm bill are fascinating. For example, I had no idea before reading this book that the first Farm Bill was thrown out by the Supreme Court. What I often refer back to as the successful ag policy under FDR came out of a second Farm Bill in 1938.

The second Farm Bill put in place the "Ever Normal Granary," an idea Wallace found in Chinese history, which he also referred to as "Joseph's Plan" in reference to the Old Testament. When prices are low, the government buys some of the excess commodities at a fair floor price. Then, when prices are high, the government releases the commodities back onto the market to lower the prices. I think reading the politics of how this was enacted the first time around is crucial, in order to understand how we might get such a reform enacted again.

Wallace was an interesting contradiction compared to today's politics. He was for "scientific" agriculture, which ultimately gave us the industrial farming we have today. On the other hand, he was not crazy about giving tons of power to major corporations. He was a registered Republican until 1936, even though he served under a Democratic president. (At the time, there was such a thing as a progressive Republican. Wallace was never a conservative.) Wallace was die-hard for free trade, and at least at one point in his career, he embraced a plan that would help farmers by dumping cheap excess commodities on foreign markets. While he supported labor and the New Deal, the environment never came up in his politics.

In the 1940 election, Roosevelt selected Wallace as his running mate. The VP for Roosevelt's first two terms, Garner, had not remained loyal to Roosevelt in some political conflicts in his second term. Wallace was loyal. Also important to Roosevelt was Wallace's good health (in the event that Roosevelt died in office).

After winning but before taking office, Wallace went to Mexico for the inauguration of the new Mexican president Avila Camacho. He spoke Spanish (not perfectly, but well enough to be understood) and never hesitated to get out of his car and wander out into a corn field to discuss corn with a peasant. He spent an extra month in Mexico, touring the country and discussing agriculture with anyone who would talk to him. When he came back, he met with senior officers of the Rockefeller Foundation and proposed what ultimately became the Green Revolution. The authors say of this:

Yet this revolution, the central achievement of Wallace's life, was also its biggest paradox. Even as he was teaching Iowa farmers how to produce more corn, Wallace was in Washington wrestling with the problem of overproduction. And as he was bringing scientific advancement to the farm, he was setting in motion forces that would drive ever more farmers off the land. p. 149-150

Once he became VP, Wallace was mostly consumed with World War II. Even before the U.S. entered the war, he began work to stockpile and secure important materials, most notably rubber. His most famous speech, known as "Century of the Common Man," set out his vision for not just winning the war but also winning the peace afterward. He did not want to be set up to have a war with Russia, and he was quite opposed to some of Churchill's ideas about the superiority of Anglo-Saxons.

In the speech, Wallace said, "Men and women can not be really free until they have plenty to eat, and time and ability to read and think and talk things over." He traced progress and development to education and literacy and then said, "If we were to measure freedom by standards of nutrition, education and self-government, we might rank the United States and certain nations of Western Europe very high. But this would not be fair to other nations where education had become widespread only in the last twenty years. In many nations, a generation ago, nine out of ten of the people could not read or write."

Later in the speech, he said:

Modern science, which is a by-product and an essential part of the people's revolution, has made it technologically possible to see that all of the people of the world get enough to eat. Half in fun and half seriously, I said the other day to Madame Litvinov: "The object of this war is to make sure that everybody in the world has the privilege of drinking a quart of milk a day." She replied: "Yes, even half a pint." The peace must mean a better standard of living for the common man, not merely in the United States and England, but also in India, Russia, China and Latin America — not merely in the United Nations, but also in Germany and Italy and Japan.

Some have spoken of the "American Century." I say that the century on which we are entering — The century which will come out of this war — can be and must be the century of the common man. Perhaps it will be America's opportunity to suggest that Freedoms and duties by which the common man must live. Everywhere the common man must learn to build his own industries with his own hands is a practical fashion. Everywhere the common man must learn to increase his productivity so that he and his children can eventually pay to the world community all that they have received. No nation will have the God-given right to exploit other nations. Older nations will have the privilege to help younger nations get started on the path to industrialization, but there must be neither military nor economic imperialism.

In a later speech, he said "The new democracy by definition abhors imperialism." (p. 292)

Wallace's interest in Latin America continued, and during his time as VP, he took a five-week trip through many Central and South American countries. Wherever he went, he was loved. In 1946, toward the end of his time in government, he returned to Mexico and met Norman Borlaug. He was incredibly impressed with the work of Borlaug and others at the Rockefeller Foundation and "believed this foretold a stable foundation for Mexico's future." (p. 418)

In 1944, Wallace was replaced by Truman as VP. Roosevelt told Wallace to pick any seat in the cabinet he wanted except for Secretary of State, and he chose Commerce. He remained Secretary of Commerce until 1946. In 1945, he bought a farm in Westchester County, NY. However, his resignation from the cabinet was not the end of his political career. He ran, unsuccessfully, for President in 1948, on the Progressive Party ticket.

I hope you'll permit me to skip most of the politics in Wallace's later years to keep the focus on agriculture. Wallace remained an avid gardener almost to the end, even when his professional life was consumed with politics. Near the end of his life, in 1962, he returned to the USDA to give a speech.

His address reviewed the breathtaking changes that had occurred in agriculture during his lifetime. The Iowa farm on which he was born in 1888, he pointed out, wasn't too different from the farm of his grandfather's boyhood, a place where men and horses labored for an hour to produce a bushel of corn. Seventy-four years later the American farm had been revolutionized by machines and pesticides and hybrid seed. A competent farmer could produce a bushel of corn with less than six minutes of labor. - p. 524

Wallace died in 1965 of ALS.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A New Look at the Green Revolution: The Work of Bruce H. Jennings

Perhaps not surprisingly, gaining a full understanding of the Green Revolution involves understanding the institutions and figures that began it: Henry A. Wallace, the United States government, the Mexican government under President Manuel Ávila Camacho, and the Rockefeller Foundation. And if you want to understand the Rockefeller Foundation and its activities in Mexico, you ought to read Foundations of International Agricultural Research: Science and Politics in Mexican Agriculture by Bruce H. Jennings.

This book, published in 1988, is cited by many papers and books about the Green Revolution, and yet it's nearly impossible to find. Fortunately, I located a copy in PDF which I am happy to share. (While perhaps that counts as violating copyrights, I think that it's significant that few, if any, of us could locate this book and pay for it if we wanted to.)

I've written a summary of the book's chapter 2 below. Future diaries on the book will follow.

Jennings begins his chapter on the Rockefeller Foundation by examining the role of science in society during the early 1900s:

It is also at this time that observer Jeffrey Lustig cites the rise of science-based professions as serving political ends... The objectivity supposedly inherent in these [scientific] judgements, according to Lustig, was frequently revealed as an efficient disguise for corporate control. - p. 9

With that, he begins a discussion of the Rockefeller Foundation's role in research on health. At the time of the Foundation's first forays into the field of health and medicine, there were many theories about health. For example, Jennings brings up studies by John H. Griscom from the mid-1800s which pointed out that certain classes - those who lived in New York's slums - were most affected by certain disease. Thus, living conditions were important in addition to germs in dealing with health.

The Rockefeller Foundation was founded in 1901. Work that involved social factors such as Griscom's work were mostly looked down upon, ignored, or delegitimized by those in power at Rockfeller. Jennings says:

Under the aegis of the [Rockefeller] Institute's leadership there also occurred a consolidation with respect to the diversity of medical sects and perception. While differences remained among various persons claiming to represent the science of medicine, those associated with the Institute organized to promote but a single conception as the basis for medical and public health practice. As their authority expanded that of others disappeared. Differences, moreover, were resolved not by informed discussion, experimentation, or the like. Conceptions such as those advanced by John Griscom were quite simply excluded from public and professional institutions over which the Institute exerted increasing control. - p. 14

To promote germ theory and alienate anyone who looked at social factors associated with health, Rockfeller pumped millions into universities, promoted the American Medical Association, and helped set standards within state and federal bureaucracies. One of Rockefeller's researchers, for example, was Jacques Loeb, who compared the body to a machine, in which each part could be individually understood in order to understand the whole.

Also significant was Rockfeller's focus on economic implications of health, as well as its acceptance of quite a bit of corporate money. Jennings gives an example of a 1913 outbreak of hog cholera in the American west. The Great Northern Railway was losing money, as fewer farmers were shipping hogs, so they gave Rockfeller $25,000 to research hog cholera. Jennings says:

The Institute offered a means for interpreting social phenomena (e.g., occupational diseases) and organizing social action (e.g., public responsibilities for health) while suppressing more radical actions. - p. 18

As Rockefeller began looking at nutrition, it received a proposal from a scientist called E.V. McCollum, who had received support from Rockefeller in the past. In 1922, he proposed researching the role industrial agriculture and processed foods played in the deterioration of health in the U.S. As Jennings put it, "In place of impersonal entities conventionally used to discuss diet (e.g., amino acids, enzymes, etc.) McCollum substituted a language ascribing social responsibility." (p. 22) This proposal was NOT accepted by Rockfeller. When Rockefeller did take up diet and health in the 1930's, "the study was predicated... on divorcing diet and disease from the social context in which they occurred." (p. 23)

From here, Jennings turns to Rockefeller's role in agriculture. In 1903, the Rockefeller Institute created the General Education Board (GEB). The GEB worked to promote scientific agriculture among adults. One of its first projects involved helping Southern cotton farmers deal with the boll weevil. Beginning in 1906, GEB began working with Dr. Seaman A. Knapp. Jennings notes:

Whatever specialized knowledge Dr. Knapp possessed of agricultural methods was accompanied by a disregard for the social consequences of his work." - p. 24

The practice of his demonstrations supported an organization of agriculture as legitimately controlled by the monied classes and not those who tilled the soil. - p. 25

The GEB was on board with Knapp, fully aware that it was promoting a big business approach to agriculture. Jennings says that both Knapp and Loeb "conceived of man's health in terms of its value as a commercial commodity in the performance of work." (p. 28)

In 1914, Rockefeller created the International Health Commission. They began by working with United Fruit Company, noting that if they could improve the health of United Fruit's workers, it would also benefit United Fruit. Jennings says:

The major benefits of the International Health Commission's work accrued to the owners of plantations in Central and Latin America. A 1918 Commission study on hookworm treatments in Costa Rica, for example, reported its achievements in terms of dramatic increases in productivity. - p. 26

I find it quite important that, on page 31, Jennings notes that the IHC's "major client" in Mexico were petroleum manufacturers, given that during the 1930's, Mexican President Cardenas nationalizes the oil industry and thoroughly pisses off U.S. oil companies when he does so.

In order to assure the oil companies "a healthy and productive workforce," the IHC took on yellow fever. Noting that "when a population remained stationary the infection of yellow fever soon eliminated itself," Jennings suggests that if the IHC truly aimed to eliminate human suffering, it would discourage labor migration.

But while the Rockefeller Foundation did not like some forms of social change, it clearly did not mind working toward others:

Another facet of the Foundation's international programs involve science as an instrument for defeating those antagonistic to capitalism. This represented an especially important facet of the Foundation's work in China. Harry Cleaver's research describes in great detail the active participation of the Foundation in both its attempts to extend U.S. influence and to create conditions propitious for the expansion of capitalism - p 34

Jenning's adds that "the Rockefeller Foundation's managers of science grew more convinced that the application of research constituted the key to bringing order and prosperity to a chaotic world." (p. 35)

Bruce H. Jennings and the Green Revolution, Part 2

In this diary, I'd like to continue summarizing the book Foundations of International Agricultural Research: Science and Politics in Mexican Agriculture by Bruce H. Jennings, which is essential for anyone seeking to understand the Green Revolution.

Following the chapter in which Jennings examines the Rockefeller Foundation in general, he takes on their early work in Mexico. A summary of his findings follows.

Perhaps the first person to suggest what would later become the Green Revolution was Dr. J.A. Ferrell, an officer at the Rockefeller Foundation. Rockefeller began working on public health in Mexico in 1913, and Ferrell thought that something ought to be done for economic development there. In 1936, he spoke to a former minister of agriculture about the possibility of a cooperative venture in agriculture between the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican government. When the former minister said this was a good idea that President Cardenas would likely approve of, Ferrell wrote Rockefeller Foundation president Raymond Fosdick.

As noted before, Cardenas appropriated Standard Oil in 1940. I believe that Ferrell's suggestion made its way to the ears of Henry A. Wallace, who was at that time Roosevelt's Secretary of Agriculture. He would soon be elected Vice President (under Roosevelt) and his first job after the election - prior to taking office - was going to Mexico for the inauguration of Mexican President Avila Camacho.

Jennings notes that "the Rockefeller Foundation did not always act as a means of supporting Rockefeller business interests," but "there may well have been some motivation on the part of the Trustees to pursue work in Mexico that supported a political machine, Camacho's, which would favor an outcome amenable to U.S. interests, including those affecting the Rockefeller investments." (p. 47) He goes on to say:

But this did not represent the totality of Foundation interests in Mexico. The problematic concern with Mexico, specifically in terms of agricultural development, was the absence of a means of capitalizing operations int he countryside... The objectives were... to create a situation in which agriculture pursued an agenda of capitalist development. p. 47

Jennings then turns to discussing Henry A. Wallace, who "liked to think of himself as the 'father of industrialized agriculture.' (p. 47)

While Wallace appeared to understand that agricultural policies necessary of industrialized production often resulted in greater hardships faced by certain farmers and labor, he treated this as an acceptable consequence. - p. 47

There is MUCH more to say here about Wallace, and I highly recommend reading Will Allen's War on Bugs to gain an understanding of the overall scope of what led to industrial ag in the U.S. and the role farm journals played in that. Wallace published a farm journal and founded the company Pioneer Hi-Bred, the first company to sell hybrid corn, and also the company that was successful in popularizing it.

After Wallace returned from Mexico, he met with Ferrell and Fosdick on February 3, 1941 and made the proposal that led to the Green Revolution. According to him, Mexico needed "greater agricultural production." (p. 48) This meeting resulted in what the Rockefeller Foundation called the Mexican Agricultural Program, or MAP.

Rockefeller acted quickly after the meeting with Wallace, sending a team of scientists on a scouting mission to Mexico: Dr. E.C. Stakman, professor of plant protection at University of Minnesota; Dr. Richard Bradfield, professor of soils and agronomy at Cornell University; and Dr. Paul Mangelsdorf, professor of plant genetics and breeding at Harvard University. (The three later wrote a book about the Green Revolution, which is, along with the Jennings book, one of the best sources of information about the subject.)

Stakman, Bradfield, and Mangelsdorf spent July to December 1941 in Mexico, traveling all over the country. They recommended:

1. Breeding improved varieties of maize, wheat and beans;
2. Developing improved agronomic-production-management practices;
3. Improving weed control;
4. Improving animal production;
5. Training a corps of Mexican scientists.
- p. 49

Jennings continues:

The observations by Stakman, Bradfield, and Mangelsdorf of Mexican agriculture demonstrated their fundamental belief in the importance of scientific agriculture. These scientists described "genetics and plant breeding, plant protection, soil science, livestock management, and general farm management" as the means of improving the five areas of technical assistance [called for in Rockefeller's plans for Mexico]. p. 49

Furthermore, the team recommended a top-down approach. This was at odds with the recommendations of Dr. Carl Sauer, a professor of geography at University of California at Berkeley who was very familiar with Mexico. Rockefeller Foundation consulted Sauer, who recommended a more bottom up approach that involved building on the peasants' knowledge of agriculture. Sauer also worried that pushing high-yielding hybrids on Mexico would ruin their genetic resources for maize. He said that "Mexican agriculture cannot be pointed toward standardization on a few commercial types without upsetting native economy and culture hopelessly." and "Unless the Americans understand that, they'd better keep out of this country entirely." (p. 51)

In concluding his remarks on agriculture, Sauer reminded the officers of the Foundation that plants such as maize had a much more varied use in Mexico than was true of the same plant in the United States. As a result of these differences, Sauer cautioned against applying the agricultural sciences to recreate the history of U.S. commercial agriculture in Mexico. - p. 51

As Jennings put it, "In spite of the severity of Sauer's observations, the Foundation set the stage for the management of science according to the logic of commercial production." (p. 51)

Later, Sauer also argued that the Foundation's work on wheat, barley, and alfalfa were misplaced. Wheat and barley cultivation in Mexico had been promoted by the Spanish, even though the crops were "ill-suited to the ecology and economy of Mexican villages." (p. 52) Sauer thought that the Mexicans would benefit far more from work on legumes.

Internal Rockefeller studies also concurred with Sauer, finding that the Mexican diet, based on locally grown foods, was "fundamentally sound" and that there was no need to substantially change it. (p. 53) In general, they called for more food, but not different food.

In other words, there were plenty of contemporary critiques to the Mexican Agricultural Program... but the leaders at Rockefeller basically ignored them. Mangelsdorf, for example, dismisses Sauer's critiques as follows:

If the program does not succeed, it will not only have represented a colossal waste of money, but will probably have done the Mexicans more harm than good. If it does 'succeed,' it will mean the disappearance of many ancient Mexicans varieties of corn and other crops and perhaps the destruction of many picturesque folk ways, which are of great interest to the anthropologist. In other words, to both Anderson and Sauer, Mexico is a kind of glorified ant hill which they are in the process of studying. They resent any effort to 'improve' the ants. They much prefer to study them as they now are.[28] - p. 53

28. Paul Mangelsdorf, memorandum to Warren Weaver (Tarrytown: Rockefeller Foundation Archives, July 26, 1949.)

By 1949, Dr. John S. Dickey, one of the Foundation's trustees was aware that if the program's work changed agriculture in Mexico too significantly, it would greatly increase the inequality between the rich and the poor and could become a basis for political instability. He predicted "political problems not now even dimly perceived by many Mexicans.[31]" (p. 56) (I believe you would spell those 'political problems' Z-A-P-A-T-I-S-T-A-S.) Dickey wasn't so much concerned at the prospect of future political unrest, he just wanted to get Rockefeller out of the picture before it happened. Dickey wanted Rockefeller to be judged only on "the validity of scientific experiments" and he didn't want any unrest in Mexico to jeopardize plans to expand the Green Revolution in other parts of the world. (p. 57)

Jennings ends the chapter with a few more important points. First:

During the 1940s the Mexican Agricultural Program proceeded toward the goal of increased productivity without any further consideration about the social consequences of this enterprise. The anticipation of negative consequences only signaled to the Foundation officers that it might be necessary to work more strenuously to limit notions of responsibility within the scientific community. - p. 57-58

And second, he notes Warren Weaver's admission that "the promise of increased food remained subsidiary to the Foundation's interest in a larger experiment in social engineering." (p. 58)