423 pages, no illustrations
This comprehensive survey of modern plant breeding traces its history from the earliest experiments at the dawn of the scientific revolution in the seventeenth century to the present day and the existence of high tech agribusiness. Murphy tells the story from the perspective of a scientist working in this field, offering a rationale and evidence-based insight into its development. Crop improvement is examined from both a scientific and socio-economic perspective and the ways in which these factors interact and impact on agricultural development are discussed, including debates on genetically-modified food. Murphy highlights concerns over the future of plant breeding, as well as potential options to enable us to meet the challenges of feeding the world in the 21st century.
"[...] a thought provoking read, but provides a lot of background for funders and politicians, and it is to be hoped will be read by those in positions of influence."
- Journal of Genetical Research
"[...] informative and thought-provoking [...] deserves a wide readership [...]"
- Experimental Agriculture
"[...] a provocative, uncompromising and valuable book [...]"
Using this book
Nomenclature and terminology
Abbreviations and glossary
Part I. The Science of Plant Breeding
1. Origins of plant breeding
2. Creating new genetic variation
3. Modern high-tech breeding
Part II. The Societal Context of Plant Breeding
4. Rise of the public sector: the US pioneers
5. The public sector in the UK
6. Breeding goes global: the Green Revolution and beyond
Part III. Turmoil and Transition: The legacy of the 1980s
7. Resurgence of the private sector
8. Emergence of a new crop improvement paradigm
9. Decline of the public sector
10. Reaping the consequences
Part IV. The Agbiotech Paradigm
11. Agbiotech: genes and dreams
12. The future of transgenic crops I. Improving the technology
13. The future of transgenic crops II. Improving the products
Part V. Increasing Global Crop Production: The New Challenges
14. Feeding the world - fallacies and realities
15. The roles of management, subsidies, and breeding in crop improvement
Part VI. Plant Breeding in the Twenty-First Century
16. The future of international plant breeding
17. Rebalancing our approach to crop improvement
18. Where do we go from here?
19. Conclusions and recommendations
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Denis J. Murphy is Professor of Biotechnology at the University of Glamorgan, UK. His career in plant biotechnology research spans three decades, including ten years on the management team of the John Innes Centre, arguably Europe's premier research centre in plant science. He is currently highly involved with the ongoing debate on genetically modified food and crops, both locally and internationally, providing expertise and advice to numerous organisations and government agencies, as well as engaging with the general public and the media.