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Dr Fisher works to breed new organic crop varieties
M.U.M. Review Translate This Article
8 January 2005
Faculty member David Fisher's expertise in breeding organic crops is increasingly being recognized, and recently he was invited - all expenses paid - to participate in a strategic planning session of a new organization focused on developing new organic crop varieties.
The Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society in North Dakota is leading the way in developing an idea first proposed by author Raoul Robinson: developing farmer-breeder clubs that would create crops resistant to pests and eliminate the need for pesticides.
According to Dr. Fisher, the idea is to have people with an interest in crop improvement start clubs and work with farmers who are interested in helping to develop new crops.
'A premise of this idea is you don't have to have a Ph.D. in crop breeding to be effective if you use simple but effective techniques, such as recurrent selection,' Dr. Fisher says.
Dr. Fisher was one of 15 specialists invited. The meeting, which was supported by a grant from the Crop Science Society and the American Society of Agronomy, came up with a strategic plan that will increase the number of farmers and researchers who participate, develop self-renewing breeding systems, establish perpetual funding, and more.
Dr. Fisher said that while there are many breeding programs in the U.S., crop breeders typically develop new crop varieties for non-sustainable agriculture and then release them to farmers who try them out. Most funding for the breeding research comes from the USDA, which works closely with the agrochemical industry. The result is crops that are bred for dependence on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides
'With this effort to establish crop breeding clubs, we're embarking on a whole new system for producing crops geared to sustainable agro-ecosystem farms,' Dr. Fisher said.
Copyright 2004, Maharishi University of Management
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