Locus Focus on 05/09/11
THE VIKING IN THE WHEAT FIELD: An Interview with Author Susan Dworkin
Genetic diversity is nature's path to survival. But over the course of agricultural history human beings have done an exceptional job at narrowing the genetic diversity of the crops we grow and eat. The narrowing of the genetic pool ultimately results in crop failures and famine when disease or pestilence strikes. For the past century several scientists have worked tirelessly to rebuild a repository of seed varieties from around the world that can be used as breeding stock to breed new varieties of crops, such as wheat, that are resistant to whatever the current pestilence may be. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Susan Dworkin, whose book THE VIKING IN THE WHEAT FIELD, portrays the struggle of scientist Bent Skovmand to preserve the world's harvests, by insisting on keeping precious plant genetic resources free and accessible to farmers and breeders everywhere. The story of Skovmand, who died in 2007, is especially relevant in this age of genetically engineered crops, as Monsanto and other chemical companies jealously guard patents of plant breeding and sue farmers whose crops are accidentally contaminated by their neighbors' GMO crops.
Susan Dworkin has written several biographies, including The Nazi Officer's Wife, and her articles have appeared in numerous magazines.