Institutional plant breeding

Institutional plant breeding has dominated twentieth century crop improvement. It developed as a consequence of the difficulties associated with Mendelian genetics, pedigree breeding and vertical resistance. This kind of plant breeding requires teams of highly specialised scientists working in large and expensive institutes. The total breeding output was consequently very limited. As a rule, only governments could afford to run such institutes, and many of these plant breeders were either civil servants or government-financed university scientists. They tended to defend their turf with a fierce loyalty to their policies and techniques, and a fierce hostility to possible alternatives. This was one of the reasons for the long-standing opposition to horizontal resistance. Eventually, however, plant breeders' rights suggested that these institutes might become self-financing, and many of them were privatised. This introduced the concept of corporate plant breeding.

In the future, institutional plant breeding should remain a government responsibility, and a government expense. It should concentrate on those crops that are beyond the technical capabilities of plant breeding clubs, such as the classic wine grapes, hops, figs, olives, bananas, coconuts, pineapples, and date palms (see 11.19).

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