Nibbles: Occupy Dixie, Occupy Agriculture, Occupy America, Occupy Africa, Occupy Subsidies, Occupy CWR, Occupy African prehistory, Occupy Rye.

by Luigi Guarino on April 23, 2012

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Dave Wood April 23, 2012 at 11:38 am

Luigi: Crop Wild Relatives – some irony here. The first example, the yellow-flowered alfalfa (Medicago falcata), seems to have been a hit as a result of crop introduction, escape, and naturalized spread, not as a CWR as used in plant breeding (another Hansen introduction, crested wheatgrass – Agropyron cristatum – also naturalized in pasture). There are very many pasture legumes and grasses that are of value in crop breeding and these are already widespread and do not need expensive collecting expeditions.

The introducer, Hansen, knew how to get results. A pen-portrait explains: `The fact that people find Hansen so interesting even now, decades after he did his work, has to do with his gifts as a self-promoter. No matter how busy he was in foreign lands, Hansen still managed to pause for the photographer – whether scouting for pears and apples near the Hingan Mountains, traveling the grasslands by cart with an armed guard near Harbin, China, or feeding crested wheatgrass to camels at Semipalatinsk, Siberia. In Omsk, Siberia, he even found time to pause for a studio photograph – a dagger at his side, a revolver in his belt, field glasses, a bundle of alfalfa under one arm.’

But we need to remember the Irish potato famine – with the probable role of Mexican wild solanums – and the Phylloxera of grape brought to Europe from North American Vitis introductions. There needs to a lot spent on secure enclosed quarantine before CWRs can be used beyond their natural distribution.

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