Private Plant Breeding

The best example of private plant breeding undoubtedly comes from hybrid maize in the United States (see 2.12.2). This private plant breeding in maize led to one of the greatest of all agricultural advances, first in the United States, and later in most other parts of the world. It was this success that persuaded the United States Government to enact the first plant breeders' rights legislation, in the 1930s, and most other industrial countries have followed this example. The idea was to make plant breeding as free, as financially rewarding, and as competitive, as other activities protected by intellectual property rights legislation, such as inventions, writing, photography, music, and other forms of art.

However, in most crops, private plant breeding did not develop as had been hoped. Institutional plant breeding was apparently essential, because of the technical difficulties of working with vertical resistance. It is only recently that a solution to the problem of this expensive, specialised, restricted, and very conservative, institutional plant breeding has appeared. This solution is the use of horizontal resistance which, as already mentioned, is so easy to employ that plant breeding can be undertaken by any group of determined amateurs, who organise themselves into a plant breeding club.

It is probable that there will soon be very many of these plant breeding clubs around the world, linked through the Internet, and exchanging germplasm, co-operation, information and assistance. These clubs will be characterised by individual initiative, rather than institutional conservatism. And they are likely to transform plant breeding.

0 0

Post a comment