COMMENTARY

Variation is a good thing
There's no sense pitting plant breeders against one another when they're all striving to produce better cultivars.

Posted December 13, 2007

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NF


I ran across an article by one Don Lotter about bean breeding in Mexico [Beyond GMO...the REAL answer to healthy, disease resistant crops] and felt it was a positive piece in extolling the virtues of quantitative-resistance breeding. However, it was not correct in stating “mainstream” breeding programs are not concerned with horizontal/quantitative resistance. Quantitative resistance is a most desirable aim, but it is a difficult feat to accomplish. The tone of the author seems to imply hostility toward breeding methods other than those described in the article; anyone seriously concerned with making better cultivars should realize that you use the best tools possible, from whatever category they may be in. In that sense, the article does a disservice to readers in portraying a particular method as ultimately better than another. Nearly all plant-breeding programs are feeling a monetary pinch as funding dries up for research in the public sector—this is perhaps more of an effect of a population that grows disconnected from agriculture rather than the particular methods of any given breeding program. Keep up the good work, but please don't start dividing plant breeders into qualitative vs. quantitative factions—we're all just trying to make better plants, and sometimes we use different methods.

Variation is a good thing.

Keith Williams
New York