Open Source Agriculture

Smart breeding could remake the field of agriculture, and change how the world farms.
May 29, 2004, 5am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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Imagine a technology that can produce all the benefits of biotech crops -- resistance to pests and pesticides, long shelf life, rapid (or delayed) ripening, etc. -- without the worries about environmental harm, corporate consolidation, and international trade wars. Some researchers believe they have discovered -- or rather, rediscovered -- just such a science. It harkens back to centuries-old methods of cross-breeding and hybridization and adds a new twist from contemporary genomics. Scientists are now able to map the genetic code of crops, analyze the gene markers for various traits, and quickly breed several generations of a crop in laboratory cultures, thereby doing in a short time what once took decades. It's called "smart breeding" and it's producing crops called "super organics." Some researchers hope to turn smart breeding into the equivalent of the open-source movement in software, putting info about plants into the public domain for free use.

Thanks to Grist Magazine

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Published on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 in Wired
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