Practical Agricultural Development

Among plant geneticists, breeders are always held up as the pragmatic experts who know what matters in the Real World. But not all fields perceive breeders this way… Sustainable agriculture was a popular session topic at the tri-societies joint meeting in San Antonio. More specifically, many speakers took pleasure (rightly so) in pointing out the subtle complexities of local agricultural systems that many of us in breeding gloss over when trying to help. Some highlights:

What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?

I just went to the new “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” exhibit at the National Archives. It tells the history of the government’s role in U.S. food and agriculture –  a story of market protectionism, social engineering and the regulated tension between the aspirations of business and the demands of the people…

Ketchup and the Future of GM Food

It’s 3 am local time and I’m wide awake, fixated on the challenge of brand differentiation in ketchup… I recently spoke with one of the ketchup tomato breeders I know. Among other topics, he lamented the consumer’s irrational fixation on price. He pointed out that most of us won’t hesitate to grab a generic bottle of ketchup over a trusted brand for a difference of only 20 cents – which breaks down to no difference over the months it sits in your fridge: How do you sell a better product to a customer who’s not willing to pay 1 cent