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Darwinian AgricultureHow Understanding Evolution Can Improve Agriculture$
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R. Ford Denison

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691139500

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691139500.001.0001

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Repaying Darwin’s Debt to Agriculture

Repaying Darwin’s Debt to Agriculture

(p.1) 1 Repaying Darwin’s Debt to Agriculture
Darwinian Agriculture

R. Ford Denison

Princeton University Press

This book proposes new approaches to improving agriculture based on the principles of evolutionary biology and natural selection. It argues that two popular approaches to improving agriculture, biotechnology and traditional plant breeding, have tended to ignore evolutionary tradeoffs—that is, cases where an evolutionary change that is positive in one context is negative in another—and that both of them would benefit from greater attention to evolution. Whether we focus on genetic improvement of crops or better management of agricultural ecosystems, the book emphasizes the need to identify (and sometimes accept) tradeoffs that constrained past evolution in order to find new solutions to agricultural problems. It also considers some of the challenges facing agriculture, such as resource-use efficiency and food security. This chapter provides an overview of the book.

Keywords:   agriculture, evolutionary biology, natural selection, biotechnology, plant breeding, tradeoffs, evolution, genetic improvement, agricultural ecosystems, resource-use efficiency

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