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"Plant breeders have friends worldwide because they need to capitalize on genetic variation. A good example would be the rust disease that we hear about in soybeans. It's called Asian rust for obvious reasons. So, soybean breeders who have worked in Asia already have identified lines that are resistant to rust. And those are the lines that our breeders today are working with to try to incorporate rust resistance even before that disease is prevalent in this country. So, plant breeders do a lot of work behind the scenes to try to be ready for challenges that haven't happened, yet. They have to be able to kind of predict the future… The idea of seed banks and preserving genetic resources is definitely something the public should support with their tax dollars. One of the best ways to support it is with scientists, public scientists who work for the USDA or other agencies who preserve the seed or go out and hunt for new sources of genetic variation. I think that's a really cool type of plant science that I like to tell my students about, to travel the world and find new genetic resources that will beneficial to us. They're out there and we have to be aggressive about getting them. We're not going to solve all our problems with these single gene approaches that genetic engineering lends itself too… There's way more that you could collect than you have space for. So when you're out on a collection trip, you may say, 'Okay I'm going to be able to collect 3,000 entries.' But you could collect 30,000. So you have to know what your priorities are."

Don Lee – Preserving Genetics

   

Excerpts from Don Lee’s Interview:

The Bust of the 80s
Government Subsidies
An End to Subsidies?
The Internet for Ag
Immigration in Rural Am.
History of Hybrids
Climate Change
Politics of Ethanol
Alternatives to Corn
Genetic Engineering
Bt & Roundup Ready
Patenting Genes
RR & Conservation