On Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 3:16 PM, narasimhansesh@...
> 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:
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
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 to create the diversity of offsprings needed to 'Select'
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?).
- 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.
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