Traditional plant breeders are allies of organics

Posted December 9, 2004

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Dear New Farm,

Concerning your recent article about breeding at Chapingo for ‘horizontal’ disease resistance in beans (Beyond GMO…the REAL answer to health disease resistant crops): I was disappointed that Dr. Lotter did not interview Dr. Jorge Acosta or any other member of the IDIAF bean research program to obtain a different perspective about the status of bean breeding in Mexico. Their team has successfully used conventional plant breeding techniques to develop disease resistant bean cultivars that are grown in Mexico on millions of acres. I would also like to suggest that Dr. Lotter visit Dr. Juan Carlos Rosas at the Escuela Agricola Panamericana in Honduras. His bean program has used major genes for disease resistance to develop bean cultivars that are widely used in Central America.

I would hope that the organic food community would view public plant breeders as allies rather than adversaries. Conventional plant breeding techniques use genes that already exist in nature. Many of our research objectives are to reduce the need to use inputs to deal with biotic and abiotic stress.

James Beaver