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Friday, 28 August 2009

Veggies sprout, claims shock report on crop diversity

The IPKat's scholarly friend Paul J. Heald (Allen Post Professor of Law, University of Georgia, Visiting Professor, Oxford University 2009) has been busily writing up his study with Susannah Chapman on changes in crop diversity in the 20th century. As Paul puts it, this topic is "so hot it's incendiary!" In short, writes Paul:

"According to the conventional wisdom, the twentieth century was a disaster of monumental proportions for vegetable crop diversity. The conventional wisdom is wrong. Our study of 2004 commercial seed catalogs shows twice as many 1903 crop varieties surviving as previously reported in the iconic 1983 study on vegetable crop diversity. More important, we find that growers in 2004 had as many varieties to choose from (approximately 7,100 varieties among 48 crops) as did their predecessors in 1903 (approximately 7,262 varieties among the same 48 crops). In addition, we cast doubt on the number of distinct varieties actually available in 1903 by examining historical sources that expose the systematic practice of multiple naming. Finally, by looking more closely at the six biggest diversity winners of the twentieth century (tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, garden beans, squash, and garlic), we suggest that patent law is virtually irrelevant".
You can read all about "Crop Diversity Report Card for the Twentieth Century: Diversity Bust or Diversity Boom?" on SSRN here

For those who can stomach the truth, this looks like a compelling read, says the IPKat, who is increasingly saddened by the stultifying force of conventional wisdom upon academic thinking and writing in the field of IP. Merpel's not so impressed: so much name-dropping of distinct varieties, she wails, and not a decent recipe to be found ...

Crop diversity here
Biodiversity here
Cat diversity here


Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who gets incredibly annoyed by misuse of the word 'iconic' these days. A 1983 study on crops cannot be described as 'iconic'. Ye Gods !!

Anonymous said...

I agree! It's not just 'iconic'. What about 'celebrity' and 'classic' - words which have been relegated to the status of insignificance and the merely trivial.

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