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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Breeding Plants for Organic Agriculture

The lead article in this month's CSA News is about breeding plants for organic agriculture.  Some people think that the food we eat is the way it has always been The way it is now.  One of the things that marks human social development is the move from a hinter gatherer society to an agriculture society.  Over 10,000 years ago humans began selecting seeds from superior plants in order to grow bigger, tastier, or higher yielding plants for food.   This chart has an example of selecting our brasicca crops for different valued characteristics. 

About 25 years ago, plant breeders began to work on ways to move genetic characteristics between species.  That is a rarity in natural breeding.  Time, energy and money has been concentrated on developing these transgenic crops and we now have 8 crops that carry transgenic genes. These are know as GMO crops. 

This occur ed about the same time that organically  foods started to gain popularity.  Foods may not be labelled organically grown if they are derived from transgenic manipulation.  A problem that organic producers face is getting seeds with superior genetics that do not contain transgenic material.  Now some researchers are going back to basics to help organic producers.  These plant breeders can use modern technology to check seeds for superior genetic traits even if the plants are selected by traditional breeding methods.  Click on the links for more information.

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