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11709Re: [fukuoka_farming] Native Paddy Varieties

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  • Suraj
    Feb 28, 2011
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      On Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 3:16 PM, narasimhansesh@... <
      narasimhansesh@...> wrote:

      >
      >
      > Hi! All:
      >
      > I happened to read an article on the subject matter in one of the old
      > issues of 'India Today'. I thought, I should share it with the Indian
      > members of this group. Please click on the link below to read the article:
      >
      > http://m.indiatoday.in/itwapsite/story?sid=104799&secid=134
      >

      Great article. But I have a few quips:

      1. The article terms the 'hybrids' as 'artificially pollinated'. While the
      observation is somewhat true (w.r.t. IRRI et al produced varieties), I
      believe, it is improper to shove everything under the 'artificially
      pollinated' rug.

      As fukuoka puts it succinctly, on the question of natural vs artificial, it
      can be said that these plants like rice have evolved along with us for over
      10,000 years now. Evolution requires two things:

      1. genetic diversity in order to produce 'new' types of offsprings (tall and
      dark dad + short and fair mom is likely to result in not only tall and dark
      / short and fair children but also tall and fair / short and dark children).

      2. selection pressure... the undesirable offsprings are removed, whether by
      nature (as in the case of natural floods that wipe out those that can't
      survive in a flooded condition) or by humans.

      So the question is only whether it was a conscious selection or an
      'unconscious' one. With plants like rice, natural cross pollination is quite
      reduced and a slow process. Artificial pollination only artificially brings
      two different varieties together, which even if they naturally pollinated,
      would have produced similar results. The remaining 'selection' part of the
      evolution can all happen naturally and there is no one stopping us from
      doing this. Infact, lots of plant breeders already do this.

      2. The table on the right claims hybrid varieties need 'fertilizers' whereas
      traditional varieties don't. This is also highly debatable - the hybrid
      varieties produced by IRRI might fit this bill. But not all hybrids are
      'created' in a lab. There are many breeders across the world who use Crop
      Wild Relatives[2] to create the diversity of offsprings needed to 'Select'
      from.

      3. Above all, given we're entering a new phase of planetary (climate change)
      and ecological conditions (accelerating loss of biodiversity) that none of
      the plants (whether hybrid / traditional / GM crops) were used to growing
      in, I personally believe, traditional varieties _coupled_ with natural
      breeding practices are vital to preserve the said breed. So the kind of
      closed mindset thinking about hybrids will only make us repent that we
      didn't continue our 'selection pressure' to keep the ball rolling. Also,
      biotech corporations tend to use confusing terminology to make us believe
      that 'GM' is 'as good' as hybrids, we need to take back the term 'hybrid'
      and define it as a naturally produced variety, as it has always been since
      centuries. But we also need to be clear about what we want to look for when
      someone claims they now have a hybrid variety of seed (ie., do they really
      need fertilizers only? were they produced in a lab with a short-sighted,
      reduced view to improve just one trait?).

      Cheers,

      -Suraj

      Footnotes:

      [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selection_pressure - as in the case of the
      varieties that are drought resistant, it just needs a few individual progeny
      in the plant population that are _slightly_ more drought resistant than the
      others. If they manage to survive to leave offsprings and the selection
      pressure mounts slowly (ie., increasing drought but not a 'lasting'
      drought), the conditions could just favour creation of an all natural
      drought resistant variety.

      [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_wild_relative


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