Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New Green Revolution Needed

I recently read Raoul A Robinson's free book Return to Resistance: Breeding Crops to Reduce Pesiticide Depedency. In terms of crop breeding, it put together ideas and laid out a simple plan to breed for resistance in crop plants, and how to locally adapt a crop variety so that harmful pesticides and fungicides are not needed. I think this will be necessary in the coming years to breed for resistance as a diverse genetic population containing polygenic resistance rather than for lock/key traits via pedigree mendelian genetics and the resulting monocultures that result. Overall, I found the ideas very helpful and this seems to be what marker assisted selection (MAS) is trying to obtain by analyzing multiple quantitative traits and breeding for increased production, although I don't think MAS will be able to obtain the same result with such elegance and cost-effectiveness as Robinson's methods. His breeding ideas for both outbreeding and inbreeding crops are excellent and are a must read. Don't skip the part about the lock and key mendelian traits, I found that part very informative in distinguishing the two schools of crop breeding.

I agree with many of his ideas in this book, except for the whole part about global warming and over-population. Yes, I am a big skeptic of hype and scare tactics especially when the data looks sketchy like disappearing temperature monitoring stations in rural locations and poorly situated temperature measurement equipment (Don't get me wrong we should take care of the planet and not be wasteful, but there are much bigger pollution and waste problems that are being evaded by focusing on CO2). Climategate has been all the news lately with corruption of top scientists falsifying climate data for political purposes and financial gain. Do you think a scientist that wants to study the hypothesis that CO2 has had no effect on climate would get funding? No, he absolutely wouldn't get funded because it wouldn't support the corrupt government and scientist plans to institute cap and trade (i.e. a financial tax for a harmless gas).

Yes, maybe the theoretical ideas of overpopulation and global warming are real, but I don't think we are even close to over-population. We just have poor management of our existing resources from the governments and companies that be. Look at all the land that is not currently in any type of useful agricultural production: parks, yards, lawns, and city streets. In addition, the government pays farmers not to plant crops when they should just rotate their crops. How absurd. If the government didn't pay farmers to leave their land fallow and enough people incorporated gardens, a few fruit trees, or fruit bushes into their yards that would drastically increase the total food output. Trees are among the easiest of food type plants and give you the biggest production for the effort. Currently, many yards and tree lined streets are planted with only oaks, maples, honey locust, and ash trees. I think we could plant something like Pakistani Mulberries (non-staining large variety), walks would be clean from stains and the fruit is delicious or am I the only one that eats mulberries when I walk under a mulberry tree, maybe. If more people saved seed and planted gardens this would help dramatically.

Raoul Robinson's free book, The Amateur Potato Breeder’s Manual, is also a suggested read.

No comments:

Post a Comment