Rather than “too good to be true”, this scheme is too obvious to happen. Stakeholders, public or private, do due diligence, especially if the “flagship project”, “demonstration case” or “experiment” runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars. This is of public concern.
Your previous blog detailed the impact of Charles Simpson’s crosses in Texas, which used the “tetraploid route” of introgression which donated a chromosome segment from A09 which confers root knot nematode resistance. The PNAS paper focuses mostly on progeny from the North Carolina “hexaploid route”, which ended up traveling most around the world. These introgressions, from A02 and A03, confer resistance to Late Leaf Spot, Rust, and to a lesser extent Web Blotch.
Would be interesting to compare the impacts of the two “routes.”
We need strong awareness raising and encouragement to see gene banks not just as final resting places for historic exotic germplasm, but also as portals for highly needed useful genetic diversity for future introgression into modern crops.
Maarten was closely involved in both CIMMYT’s Wheat Genebank and the Australian Grains Genebank.
Susan MacMillan of ILRI contributed a long comment to my short post “Smallholders still produce a lot of food” from a few days back. As she clarifies some of the definitions, adds a reference or two, and points out that livestock are usually neglected in this discussion, I think it’s worth raising its profile here. Do read the whole thing.
So, my take is that ‘it’s complicated’. But as you say, whatever the definitions of terms, people farming relatively small plots of land still produce a whole lot of food for a whole lot of people besides themselves—and they need our support more than ever to continue to do so under ever-more challenging conditions.
Denise Costich, who has just retired as head of the CIMMYT genebank, gives us a bit of the back story to a paper we included in a recent Brainfood:
Thanks for the mention of our Dry Chain work… the first time I heard about drying beads was at my very first AGM in Rome in 2012. That was a key introduction to this technology for me. It was there in my “knowledge base” when we first began to tackle the problem of seed storage in remote locations without electricity – the community seed reserves and farmers’ corn cribs of the Western Highlands of Guatemala.
AGM stands for Annual Genebank Meeting. The managers of the CGIAR genebanks have been organizing them since 2012.