plant phys use in breeding

Toby Bradshaw toby at
Fri Sep 11 10:07:47 EST 1992

>Ricardo Salvador
>And those complaints were appropriate.  In exchange for hybrid vigor
>maize farmers have become dependent on a previously non-existant
>industry to obtain the basic ingredient necessary to begin each
>season, and this ingredient (the seed) is not an inconsiderable
>fraction of the expense incurred to produce the crop (in Iowa, excluding
>costs for land, cost of production per acre is in the neighborhood of
>$55; of that, hybrid seed may account for $25 to $50).  To make such
>systems viable and "cost-efficient" economies of scale must be created
>(or invoked ;)

If farmers balk at paying for hybrid seed, they could develop
OP populations of corn on their own.  "Craft" production gave
way to mass production and its economies of scale in many areas
besides agriculture.

>and this has directly resulted in the elimination of
>many small and middle-scale farm operations that previously were
>perfectly tenable (cf. "Changes in Iowa Agriculture: 1978-1987," CRD 291,
>Iowa State Univ. Extension).

And there are less farriers than when horses were commonly used
for transportation in the U.S.  So what?

>[I]t seems that a good argument
>can be made that the hybrid seed corn industry was created and exists
>largely for the benefit of the seed corn industry, and NOT because it
>has been better for farmers OR for society at large.

Maybe it seems that way to you.  Nobody is holding a gun to the
farmer's head and forcing him/her to fork over the $1E9 for
hybrid seed.  The U.S. pays a lower percentage of its GNP for
food than any nation on earth, so its difficult to argue that
the consumer hasn't benefited.

Toby Bradshaw
Department of Biochemistry and College of Forest Resources
University of Washington, Seattle
toby at

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