Designing Seeds and Laboratories for the Green Revolution

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Editor’s NoteThis is the fifth post in the Seeds 2: New Research in Environmental History” series co-sponsored by NiCHE and Edge Effects, publicising the work of early-career environmental historians. This series serves to highlight new work being done in the field of environmental history and connect this research to other fields and contemporary issues.

By Nikki Moore

Between 1930 and 1978, art, architecture, and agriculture stood at the vanguard of a soft war waged by the Rockefeller Foundation in the broader Caribbean. Fighting against food shortages to win the masses from the lure of communism, while leveraging the aesthetic realm to win support from the region’s elite, Nelson Rockefeller and the Rockefeller Foundation laid the foundations for a techno-scientific conversion of agriculture now known as the Green Revolution.

While the Green Revolution’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning genetic developments transformed yields in wheat by upwards of 400%, the creation of the program’s so-called “super-seeds” was the product of a design mentality, an aesthetic of fungibility, which transcended national, disciplinary and, eventually, species-specific boundaries.

Read the rest of this article at Edge Effects here… 


Featured image: International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Cali, Colombia.  Photo by Neil MacLellan. Courtesy of the Rockefeller Archive Center.

Nikki Moore is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art History at Rice University. After completing her S.M.Arch.S at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT) in 2005, Nikki continued her graduate studies at the European Graduate School (EGS). Student teaching for Slavoj Žižek brought her to question the ideologies of nature and sustainability.  Her current object oriented research focuses on the industrialization of food-based commodities and concurrent development practices in modern Latin America, focusing on their symbiotic relationship to art and architectural practice.  Her work has been published in Europe, Brazil, and the United States. WebsiteTwitterContact.

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Jessica DeWitt is a historian of the American and Canadian environment, editor, and digital communications strategist. She is an editor and social media editor for NiCHE.

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