The diversity of crop plants is one of our most important biological resources, and the most important source of crop genes are the fields of peasant farmers in regions where crop domestication and evolution have occurred. Today, however, crop genes are threatened by social and technological change such as human population growth, the use of new agricultural technologies, the development of new varieties, and the commercialization of agriculture. Gene banks have been successful in capturing much of the genetic diversity of crop species, but it also essential that the environmental systems where the crop genes evolve also be conserved.
Genes in the Field provides an interdisciplinary foundation for an important new conservation program: maintaining biological resources of crop plants within the systems where they have evolved. The book offers a truly global vision of the on-farm conservation movement and, like no other before it, provides a comprehensive review of the issues and challenges of on-farm conservation of genetic resources. The book's chapters are written by a collection of outstanding scholars and academics from a variety of disciplines; they include biologists, agronomists, anthropologists, economists, lawyers, and agricultural development specialists.
Genes in the Field is truly global in scope and multidisciplinary in character. It will appeal to a large, varied, and international audience. Its most general appeal will be to professionals in the fields of conservation and agricultural development, particularly those who are involved in planning or implementing conservation programs. For course work, the book will be appropriate for graduate programs in agricultural development and conservation.
Stephen B. Brush is Professor of Human and Community Development at the University of California in Davis, CA (USA). On the issues of intellectual property and genetic resources, Prof. Brush has advised the Global Environmental Facility, the United Nations Development Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the World Bank, the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, and the International Development Research Centre. He is coauthor (with Doreen Stabinsky) or Valuing Local Knowledge: Indigenous People and Intellectual Property Rights (Island Press, 1996).