I'd raise another issue that will, in the long, I think have a more
devastating impact on the future of agriculture than biotechnology
itself. I discuss this in a talk given to the National Farmers
Union in Saskatchewan, which I will shortly mount on my homepage.
The issue is the displacement of traditional agricultural
specializations, such as agronomists, crop and livestock specialists,
soil management specialists, etc. by biotechnologists. If you look
at virtually any applied agriculture department, the complexion has
changed in the last 10-15 years - certain fields are no longer
represented while others have intruded. Understand that when a
molecular geneticist is hired in an applied department, it is
typically not "in addition" to the existing scientists, but rather,
in preference to replacing a retiring faculty member in a traditional
What this means is that to an increasing extent, we in the
academic community will literally not have the horses to
study/extend/refine meaningful alternatives to the high-tech paradigm
when (not if) biotechnology goes the way of the dinosaur. Not only
is research funding and output in the areas of truly
sustainable agriculture, e.g.
*problem avoidance vs. problem solving,
*working to channel natural processes to the service of human food
*internalizing the true costs of production
*enhancing positive synergies among system components, etc.
DECLINING now, but we are also NOT producing a cadre of
graduate student replacements capable of continuing and expanding
this work in the future. In my darker moments, I see an agricultural
community in dire need for answers, but the questions will go
unanswered and the consequences will be devastating. Why? Because
by then, the academic departments will be populated by self-
perpetuating, uncomprehending, and unresponsive molecular geneticists
who will continue to churn out genetic irrelevances and publish
papers while Rome burns.
This, in my view, will be the real legacy of today's lethally
hypnotic fascination with biotechnology. Ann
Dr. E. Ann Clark
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON N1G 2W1
Phone: 519-824-4120 Ext. 2508
FAX: 519 763-8933
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with "unsubscribe sanet-mg".
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command