plant phys use in breeding

S. A. Modena samodena at
Fri Sep 11 01:26:37 EST 1992

In article <1992Sep10.230549.2104 at> rjsalvad at (Ricardo J Salvador) writes:
>In article <1992Sep9.160616.8067 at> toby at (Toby Bradshaw) writes:
>>>Again it's
>>>the numbers: what does it cost to do the gels, what are the start up
>>>costs, and picking probes (or primers, in the case of RAPDs) is a
>>>problem in maize (maybe it's easy in alfalpha or whatever).
>>Similar complaints were made about hybrid seed corn.  
>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 ;), 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).  

I have a plastic watch for $5 because of a previously non-existant technology
(quartz-timed CMOS chips) and previously non-traditional watch 
manufacturing comglomerate (the Asian Rim).  I can show you the human
toll wreaked on the venerated guildcraft of watchmaking and repair,
not to mention metal smithing and precision miniature gear making.

A Mexican friend told me of his family's escape from death at the hands
of the Nazi's.  They escaped to Cuba and then Mexico.  In Cuba, his Dad,
sought work in his profession, as a shoemaker.  

El Jefe (the big Boss): "Can you make 15 pairs of shoes a day?"

The Eastern European Cobbler:  "I am used to making a gentleman's
	shoes of very high quality in perhaps 10 days!"

El Jefe (the big Boss): Can you make 15 pairs of shoes a day--starting
	from TODAY?!"

The Eastern European Cobbler: "Yes"

( I know MANY similar real stories....)

In other words, things change for one reason or another.....and like it
or not, 1938 and the introduction of hybrid corn is far in the past...
for with the introduction of hybrid corn, the American Farm Belt,
released a mass of manpower/intellectual resources into the urban 
environment in time to man the factories and become the admirals (look
down the list of hometowns of the Pacific Naval Commanders).  And we
raised enough BEEF and PORK to feed all of the Allied armies whether they
were in India or Crimea or North Africa or Britian.  And after the war
HYBRID CORN feed the devastated populations of EUROPE until they could
recover from their vast self-inflicted injuries and take their place again
in the productive world.

The world keeps changing: only change is constant now.  Everywhere,
all static societies are under immense pressure from the hyperactive
world changers.  

>                          Over the span of time from the 1930s (when
>hybrid seed began to be adopted commercially) to the present, the 
>proportion of value-added profit due to farmers has decreased from
>21 to 5 percent, and that due to the input industry (seeds, pesticides)
>has increased from 13 to 30% (the remainder is due to the marketing
>sector, and this has remained stable over the same period of time; cf.
>Smith, S. 1992.  Farming- It's declining in the U.S.  Choices 7:8-10;
>Smith is senior economist at the joint economic committee of Congress).
>If the argument discounting the immiseration of thousands of displaced
>farmers is that there was net benefit to society from  the increased
>"efficiency" of farming, then it must be pointed out that the ecological
>cost of large scale specialized farming is mostly unaccounted yet
>estimates indicate that it is formidable (cf. Repetto, R. 1992. Accounting
>for environmental assets. Sci. Amer. 266:94-100).  

A friend of mine grew up in Connecticut on a farm.  It was a tragic day
when they had to sell off the dairy herd.  The Dad became despondant
and underwent institutionalization and electroshock.

Can one farm in Connecticut and be oblivious to the torrent of change?
Where is the fault?  Perhaps with the Wisconsin and Minnesota farmers
who can graze cattle on the vast tundra and cheapen the cost of milk
to the point that it can be converted to dry milk solids, transported
to Connecticut and reconsituted?

So what does this (mine or yours) recounting of scenarios accomplish?

>                                        If the argument in
>favor is that increased productivity was better for those farmers who
......more economic chrono-facts deleted for brevity.....
>Q.E.D. above.  The major benefactors have been other than farmers and
>From Iowa, where we think a lot about corn, AND we want our own newsgroup ;).

Now, in the next post, I'm going to take quite a different approach.
Richardo's is based on valid factual observations but ladden with
crypto-blaming and finger pointing away from the central players: the
farmers themselves.  In the posting INFORMATION-BASED FARMING I will
present a different synthesis.  

Get ready Richardo and others, because I expect to have my thesis ripped up
on all of it's weak points!  :^)

|     In person:  Steve Modena     AB4EL                           |
|     On phone:   (919) 515-5328                                   |
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|     By snail:   Crop Sci Dept, Box 7620, NCSU, Raleigh, NC 27695 |
         Lighten UP!  It's just a computer doing that to you.

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