Socioeconomic Obstacles to Establishing a Participatory Plant Breeding Program for Organic Growers in the United States
Proponents of participatory plant breeding (PPB) contend that it is more conducive to promoting agricultural biodiversity than conventional plant breeding. The argument is that conventional plant breeding tends to produce crops for homogenous environments, while PPB tends to be directed at meeting the diverse environmental conditions of the farmers participating in a breeding program. Social scientific research is needed to highlight the complex socioeconomic factors that inhibit efforts to initiate PPB programs. To contribute, we offer a case study of a participatory organic seed production project that involved a university breeding program, commercial organic seed dealers, and organic farmers in the Northeastern United States. We demonstrate that, although PPB may indeed promote agricultural biodiversity, several socioeconomic obstacles must be overcome to establish such a program.
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