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«Biotechnology-Assisted Participatory Plant Breeding: Complement or Contradiction? PPB Monograph No. 3 Ann Mane Thro and Charlie Spillane 1 7 ...»

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Sorne say that R&D would become m ore clemand -driven if institutions and individuals were made more accountable for the relevanee of the technology they develop. But perhaps the best way forward is to give resource-poor farmers a publica11y su bsidized voice in decision making. This could help orient plant breeding and biotechnology towards th eir interests (Haugcrud and Collinson, L990).

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Introduction PPB faces many of the same limitations as conventional formal plant breeders have faced for c1 ecades and farmer breeders ha\'e faced for millennia. Biotechnologies that can assist conventional plant breeding may also be found helpful in researcher·led PPB. A sub·set of biotechnologies may even prove a pplieable by farmers (or farmers ' groups) in farmer-led PPB.

As yet there are very few examp1es of the use of bio teehnology in PPB (de Boefet al, 1993; Okali et al, 1994; Eyzaguirre and Iwanaga, 1996; Sperling and Loevinsohn, 1996; UPWARD, 1996; CIAT, 1997 ;

Veldhuizen et al, 1997). This chapter looks at sorne of the biotechnology tools tha t are or could be usecl. Because sorne of the applications discussecl require the use of genetie transformation, biosafcty and other emerging regulatory considerations will affeet their development and deployrnent. These are discussed in Chapter 6.

Genctic variation i5 the essential raw material for the generabon of improved erop varieties through plant breeding. Breeders obtain useful gene tic variation in many ways: through aceess lo existing diverse paren tal lines or populations of erops, their wild relatives, or even unrelated organisms; through increased understanding of patteros of diversity in crop-environment and host-pathogen interactions; by inducing random mutation; or (in a more directed fashion) byaltering the expression of existing genes andj or discovering 'new' genes.

Biotechnology provides useful new tools to aid the generation and analysis of variation by all these methods.

Fanners' control over key biologtcal processes

Farmers attempt to control or manage many physical and biological variables in their erop production systems. The tools for this purpose typically include inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, mechanization, and human labor. Resouree-poor farmers by definition have less aceess to the external inputs that can reduce their labor inputs. For example, for many such farmers, labor-intensive 'hancls· on' weeding is often the only mean5 ofweed control (see Box 14). Severa l Biotechrtology as a Sel o[ Tools Jor Fonnal and Informal Plan! Breeding recentIy developed a pproaches to crap husban dry, such as IPM, seek to ¡nerease farmers' control ayer thei r syste ms by adding to lheir knowled ge a nd substituting their labor for external inputs, often co nsisting of gene-based technology.

In th eory, plant biotechnologies could be developed that wauld increase farmcrs' control or managcrnent of key biological processes.

Needs assessrnent would h ave to be an integral p art of such 'controloriented' technology develop rn enl, to identify wh at processes are rnost important to specific [arme rs (Mosse, 1993).

Dependency and empowerment: Product versus process?

A rough disti nction can be rn ade betwee n (i) providing fmished products ro fa rmers and (ii) facilitating research (whether formal or informal) through th e provision of what are called 'process' or 'enabling' traits or tool s. Thc lalte r ¡nelude traits and tools such as mate sterility, induci ble promoters, MAS, transposon mutagenesis, and in vitro techn iqucs.

Thc ran ge an d case of use of thcse tools is increasi n g. Originally de velopcd for u se by plant breeders or biotechnologists, sorne of thern at lcast cou ld be adapted for u se by fa rmers in a way that increases thcir con trol over biological processes. Although thi s has been proposed, to the authors' knowledge no exa mples yet exist of such adapta tion (Je[ferson. 1993a. 1993bJ. Th is may reflec! either biotechnologists' lack of know ledge of or contacts with PPB, or lack of funds for the necessary research, or both.

Instead of providing fin ished products to farmers, it 1 possible to develop en hanced germpla sm 'prototypes', which are locally replicable and modifia ble using 10calJy available expertise a nd resources. This is a n under-research ed area in plant biotechnology. It proba bly requircs the development of enabling tools that a re s pecia lly designed and packaged to support farme rs' c1ecision m aki ng, rath er than the tools developed fo r use by fo rm a l breeders (M. Loevinsohn, pers. comm.).

This a pproach has been promoted as a potentially empowering for m of biotechnology research for resouree-poor farmers (Jeffe rson, 1993a, 1993bJ. The experiences of exisu n g PPB programs co uld be useful in guiding the development and aclap tation of sorne enabling tools for use by farrners.

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Can biotechnology tools be made more user-friendly?

The authors recognize tha t the la boratory stages of plant biotechnology research, in volving com plex and specialized tasks, such as DNA sequenci ng and analysis or genetic modification, are n ot for the most part conducive to far mer par ticipa tion. Such research is likely to be relatively inaccessible no t only to farmers but also to other (nonbiotec hnology) specia lists.





In formal plant breed mg, biotechn ology no\V offers certain defin ite advan tages over conve n tion al meth ods. Examp les in elude vi rus elimination through meriste m cu ltu re, breaking tigh t genetic linkages, s peedin g up backcrosses, add ing new traits or enhancing existing ones, micropropagation, the identification of h eterO L.ic groups, the manipulation of breeding systems through m a le sterility or selfincompa tibility, and so on. In theory, simila r advantages coule! accrue to farmer- led breeding. if th e development and use of the necessary tool s could be rnad e cost- effective.

Certain biotechnology tools are li kely to be used only in labo ratories. These inel ude the tools fo r claning gen es, iden tifying their functions. and developing genetic constructs. Other tools could be used in the fie ld by farmer breede rs. These tools range from locally adapted tissue cultu re techniqu e s for vegeta tively propagated crops, through simple di agn ostic ki ts for detecting vi ruses, to 'in termediate' or 'facilitator ' genotypes engineered to s im plify far mer-m anaged recombin ation or selection.

This cr u de categori zation reflects current. still li mited, experience and imaginati on. It also implies a broad in terpretation of what could be consid ered a biotechnology tool, as opposed to a biotechnology producto For ins tance, a research product s u ch a s a transgen ic variety h a rborin g a ge ne for inducible m ale sterility could, in lh e hands of a farmer breeder, be a u seful research tool at the field level for the purpose of increasin g recombinatio n (Bidi n ger et a l, 199 4). Cost co n sidera tions aside, the a uthors conte nd tha t sorne oC lhe biotechnology tools that can now be u sed di rectly in the field by conventional plant breeders cou ld be equ a lly useful in existin g or adapteJ form to sorne farm er breedcrs. It is difficult lo generalize and there will bg ma ny differcnt outcomes from broadly s imilar attem pts to test thei r u se. A clearer picture will emerge as more th ough t is givc n to th is subject. as more sha red expe rien ces a re gained, and a s more robust field -Ievel tools become available.

The sections that follow explore how so rn e biotech nologies might be use ful at certain stages of either the plant brcedi ng or th e erap produ etion cyele. Most of them would require significant supporl from formal scientisls, al least at lhe outset. Th c opportuni ties and constraints associated with each are highlighted. u sing real examples o/ Tools Jor Formal and Infomw.l Plan! Breedrng Biotechnology as a Set to illustrate the releva nce to smalL-scale farmers wherever possible. In cases where no biotec hnology-assisted PPB work has been done, possibilities for the future are outlined. Real and imagined examples are supplemented with observations drawn from OUf consultatlons with experts. These observations renect the range of current opinion, as a basis for further discussion and experimentation.

Tools for Understanding Diversity

Biotechnology oITers tools for analyzi.ng the genctic variation among plant individuals, accessions, populations, and species {Wu and Tansley, 1993; McCou ch et al, 1997; Olufowote et al, 1997) and for monitoring genetic diversity over time and space (Smith and Beavis, 1996; McCouch et a l, 1997). These tools have sometimes bee n u sed to generate greater understanding by outsiders of farmers' managemen t of crop genetic diversity. Sorne commentators felt that this mode of research, typically involving the molecular analysis of genetic variatíon in crop plant populations, is the most, or even the only, appropriate use of biotechnology in support of farmer breeders (8. Visser, J.

Jiggins, pers. cornrns.).

Molecular marker analysis could improve the methodologies u sed by PPB programs. Information on the relationship between phenotypic and genetic diversity and the dynamics of functional and redundant gene tic diversity in different crop reproduction systems is essential if PPS is to move beyond the promotion of mass selection. Molecula r studies may be helpCu l in assessing the recent concept of a 'theatre of evolution' in and around the fields of smal1~ scal e farmers in developing countries (Dempsey, 1992).

There is now a growing body of information on how farmers' selection and seed exchangc processes may afTcct the p henotypic characteristics of crop varieties over time and space (e.g., Louette and Smale, 1998; Longley, 1999; Soleri et al, 1999). Studies on this subject are complex, as geneflow can be conditioned by many biological, physical, and social fac tors. Nonethcless, it is thought that fa rrners' mana gement of crop vari eties can be highly dynamic, involving open systems with a large turnover oC local and introduced germplasm over even a few crop generalions (Louette et a l, 1997; Wood and Lenne, 1997). This has been reported for crops such as rice (Dennis, 1987), rnaize (Sellón and Brush, 1994), beans (Sperling and Loevinsohn, 1993), a nd po tato (Brush et al, 1981). lndeed, the 'half-hfe' of landraces in traditional systems may be evcn shorter than that of modern varieties in high-input systems (Wood and Lenne, 1997), a factor which PPB programs would do wcll to take into account since it emphasizes the need to provide a stream of useful materials to meet changing environmental conditions and the changing n eeds of farrn ers (D. Duvick, pers. cornm.). In sorne cases genellow can occur bctwecn introduced modern varieties and locallandraces, leading to Biotechnology-Assisted PPB: Complement or Corllradiction?

the 'rusticatio n' or 'criolloization' ofthe introduced varieties (Smale et a l, 1991 ; Bellón a nd Brush, 1994 ; Louette et al, 1997 ; Wood and Lenné, 1997).

However, liule of predictive s cien tific value is currently known abou t how far mers' se lcction p ractices afTect local-Ievel geneflow.

Among the handful of stu dies known to the au thors are tho se on Andean potalo landraces (Zimmere r and Douches, 1991), cassava in Malawi (Box 5). m a ize in Mexico (J. Bcrtha ud, pers. comm.), and pearl mill et in West Africa (Box 6). Studies h ave also been done on poorer farmers' (or consumers') know1edge and perccption s of the use fulness of exo tic cul tivated germplasm or crap wi ld relatives in plant b recding (Lou e tte et al, 1997; Wood and Le nné, 1997; Longley, 1999). A number of studies have been conducted on the exten t and partitioning of genetic diversity between land race s (SpiUane and Gepts, 2000).

However, for r easons to do with the ease of sampling, the majority of such studies u se accessions fr om genebanks, which have been separated from the farmers who may (or may n ot) have continued to m anage both the landraces and the cnvironmen ts in which they evolved (e.g., Olufowote et a l, 1997). In tegrated a pproaches involving molecular an alyses to facilitate un dcrstanding an d enhancement of farmers' la nd r aces were also presented at a 1997 Workshop on the Managemen t of the Genetic Resources of the African Savannah, held in Bamako, Mali (Anon, 1993).

A cooperative of small-scale fa rmers in coastal Ecuador plans to develop a farmers' collectlon of cassava a s part of a d isaster reli ef projec t funded by the United States Agency for Intern ational Developmen t (USAID) (see Box 10). This project will use molecular m arkers to characterize the collection's Ia n draces, so as to support the iden tificatíon of clones and m atch them correctly to associated traditional knowledge. From the fe w othe r studies of this kind condueted so far, it is evide n t tha t useful insights on farme rs' germpla sm co nservation an d enhancement strategies can be obtai ned (Zirnmere r a nd Douches, 1991; Busso et al, 1998). A local-level s tudy of the partitioning of ge netic diversity in Andean potato la ndraces d ernonstrated high levels of ge neflow between commercial landrace populations as a result of seed tuber exchange among farmers, but lower leve ls for types used solely for s ubsistence (Zimmerer and Douches, 1991). Molecular characterization of farmers' germpla srn cou ld help farmers' groups to monitor their situation and resea rchers lo understand the farmers' methods. the better to target any fu ture support (8. Vis ser, pers. comm.).

Molecular marker analyses have been used to analyze genetic change an d inform clecision m aki ng in a long-term French program for the dynamic in si tu conservation and enhancement of wheat germp las m (Go ldri nge r et al, 2000). This 'evolu tionary breeding' program establis hed a highly diverse meta-population of whea t with Biotechn.ologyas a Sel 01 Tools lor Formal Qlld Informal Pla nt Breed ing Box5 Molecular anthropology: Markers for understanding the spread of cyanogenic cassava Cassava toxicity is a paradox. Few of the 500 million people who daily consume the crop are at risk from its toxicity. Tragic consequences tend to occur only in populations wherc severe depdvation, unvaned diet, social instability, and rood insecurity all occur together. But due to its built~in pest protection and ability to provide Cood under difficult conditions, toxic cassava is crucial for survival in precisely these situations.



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