Motives

While it is perhaps unwise to generalise about motivation, it is clear that the people involved in these four categories of plant breeding have very different incentives, and very different motives.

A special aspect of institutional plant breeding is the importance of the new cultivars. If a cultivar can be profitably cultivated over a wide geographical range, it becomes important, both economically, and in terms of the prestige of the institute and its scientists. It also justifies the high expense of the institute. This is where the 'big space, high profile, short life' (see 5.6) aspect of vertical resistance breeding becomes so attractive. It tempts institutional breeders to favour vertical resistance, and they are inclined to play down the 'short life', 'expense', and 'few cultivars' aspects of this kind of resistance.

Democratic plant breeders may also be influenced by this 'big space' consideration, but to a much smaller degree. Obviously, to an entrepreneurial private breeder, the 'big space' aspect has a strong appeal, but the 'short life' aspect is daunting. Most democratic breeders will be motivated far more by considerations of community, environment, pure food, and freedom from pesticides. These concerns will mean that horizontal resistance is the more attractive alternative for them, particularly as the permanence of this resistance permits cumulative crop improvement. These considerations are quite separate from the fact that vertical resistance is technically difficult to use in a breeding program, while horizontal resistance is easy to use.

The motives of the corporate plant breeders are obviously those of profits for their shareholders. This, after all, is what corporations are all about. However, corporate plant breeding is a classic example of the old fallacy that says, "What is good for business is good for the country". So long as chemical manufacturers monopolise plant breeding, there will be a powerful motive to replace host resistance with crop protection chemicals.

Molecular biologists probably have very different motives again. Some molecular biologists believe, not without reason, that twentieth century crop scientists have made a mess of things. They hope, somewhat optimistically, that their own discipline will put things right. Other molecular biologists are keen to advertise their new discipline, mainly to attract venture capital, new investors, or research grants. To this end, they are inclined to make claims that are perhaps exaggerated. None of the claims concerning transgenic resistance to crop parasites are realistic, unless the molecular biologists can demonstrate the durability (i.e., stability; see 10.6) of that resistance.

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