Has modern crops reduced infant mortality over the years? Yes, if the researchers from the University of California San Diego has to be believed. They claimed that since the introduction of modern crops in the 1960s, infant mortality, especially for male babies, has drastically come down.
The researchers claimed this after assessing mortality rates of more six lakh children across 37 developing countries. They said that global diffusion of agricultural technology reduced infant mortality by up to 2.4 to 5.3 percentage points. This meant that around three to six million infant deaths were avoided per year by 2000.
However, the researchers noted that green revolution, which is considered an important technological transformation in modern history, did not reach all parts of the world equally. It said that green revolution had not spread to spread to sub-Saharan Africa like it did in South Asia. If this had happened, the infant mortality rates would improve by 31 percent globally.
In the last 60 years, the researchers pointed out that green revolution catalysed the spread of modern crop varieties for staple crops such as rice, wheat and maize in the developing countries. They said that these modern crops were high yielding and resistance to pests and disease.
The Journal of health Economics published the findings. The researchers combined geospatial crop data with data of about six lakh children across 21,604 locations in 37 developing countries between 1961 and 2000. The study finds that infant mortality rates came down in a big way during the second half of the 20th century and this was because of the developments in agriculture.