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the foundation
of civilization

Plant breeding:
the foundation
of agriculture

Global Plant Breeding

Plant Breeding Symposium: Who will train plant breeders?

H.V. Harlan (1957)

"The field of plant breeding actually suffered in a way from the greater knowledge we had acquired. Mendel's work was quickly accepted as an enormous advantage in plant science. It was a definite, tangible thing that seemed to take plant breeding from the arts and place it as a science overnight. It captured the imagination of all workers, and genetics at once became a field offering prestige that both soothed and satisfied."

"A genetic paper gave new dignity to the author. We boys began to get our hair cut and our shoes shined. The effect on plant breeding was calamitous. Good varieties were still produced, but explorations in the field of practical plant breeding were wholly neglected."

"A few of us eventually realized that there would come a day when the world would recognize the difference between a good geneticist and a poor one, so we went back to thinking about plant breeding. We have undoubtedly lost the resources of many good minds from this field for a time, but they will be back."


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Department of Horticultural ScienceBox 7609North Carolina State UniversityRaleigh, NC 27695-7609(919) 515-7416

Page citation: Wehner, T.C. Global Plant Breeding, 30 March 2005;
design by C.T. Glenn; send questions to T.C. Wehner; last revised on 30 September, 2009