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When #Design Harms Instead Of Helps

May 22, 2015

This is an excerpt from the forthcoming book Design and Violence, edited by Paola Antonelli, Jamer Hunt, and Michelle Fisher and published by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The book is based on an interactive online experiment launched by MoMA in 2013.

“It haunts me still. I was 21 years old when I participated in a design research project that ultimately saved millions of people from starvation—but it did so by sacrificing the good of many along the way, and I’ve often wondered about the project’s true cost.

“I was in the Peace Corps in the Philippines in the late 1960s when the International Rice Research Institute(IRRI), an NGO established by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, was designing new varieties of rice. One such cultivar, dubbed “IR8,” or “Miracle Rice,” basically tripled rice yields, and, together with versions of “Miracle Wheat” and other grains, significantly diminished the number of famines worldwide (the natural, climate-induced kind that happened with depressing regularity for nearly as long as humans have populated the earth). The design of the new rice was a massive breakthrough that we now take for granted.”


Another frightening example of man fooling with nature. The Irony of this absolutely sits in the “cultivar” name: IR8


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