Preface

This work proposes methods of reducing, even eliminating, the use of crop protection chemicals from our crops and environment. It seems that this can best be achieved by self-organisation (sensu Adam Smith) within agro-ecosystems. This self-organisation can be brought about by numerous plant breeding clubs that are employing durable resistance to crop parasites.

If we consider the food production of a country, we find a self-organising system. Many farmers, acting individually, choose what crops to grow, and what cultivars of those crops to grow. Their decisions are based mainly on their environment, and on market demand, which comes from the decisions of individual merchants who buy their produce. Systems of transport and food processing convert raw materials into marketable products, and retailers make these products available to consumers through stores and supermarkets. These consumers choose what they buy, usually on a basis of either cost or quality. The stores must stock items according to customer preferences. There must be some government control to ensure purity and hygiene, and to prevent monopolies and cornered markets. But, in general, too much government control is damaging. This was revealed dramatically by the failure of the Soviet system of State-controlled agriculture. Government control must be kept to the essential minimum, and the entire system should be self-organising. The importance of this phenomenon of self-organisation was first recognised by Adam Smith (1723-1790) in his book The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, although he did not use this term. Immanuel Kant (17241804) was apparently the first to use the term 'self-organisation'. The present volume is intended primarily for universities wishing to initiate student clubs for plant breeding, but it may also be of interest to any scientist involved with crop parasites. A proper understanding of this topic requires an acquaintance with the general systems theory, modern complexity theory and, most of all, various concepts of the ecosystem and the pathosystem.

A further purpose of the present book is to summarise, bring up to date, and present in one volume, concepts that I consider relevant in earlier writings of mine, including three books that are now out of print (Plant Pathosystems, 1976; Host Management in Crop Pathosystems, 1987; and Return to Resistance; Breeding Crops to Reduce Pesticide Dependence, 1996).

Chapter One

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