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Evolution made to order : plant breeding and technological innovation in twentieth-century America

Author: Helen Anne Curry
Publisher: Chicago ; London : The University of Chicago Press, 2016. ©2016
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
"In the mid-twentieth century, American plant breeders, frustrated by their dependence on natural variation in creating new crops and flowers, eagerly sought technologies that could extend human control over nature. Their search led them to celebrate a series of strange tools: an x-ray beam directed at dormant seeds, a drop of chromosome-altering colchicine on a flower bud, and a piece of radioactive cobalt in a  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Helen Anne Curry
ISBN: 9780226390086 022639008X
OCLC Number: 931476568
Description: x, 285 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: Mutation theories --
An unsolved problem --
Speeding up evolution --
X-rays in the lab and field --
Industrial evolution --
Artificial tetraploidy --
Evolution to order --
Better evolution through chemistry --
Tinkering technologists --
The flower manufacturers --
Radiation revisited --
Mutation politics --
An atomic-age experiment station --
Atomic gardens --
The peaceful atom in global agriculture.
Responsibility: Helen Anne Curry.

Abstract:

"In the mid-twentieth century, American plant breeders, frustrated by their dependence on natural variation in creating new crops and flowers, eagerly sought technologies that could extend human control over nature. Their search led them to celebrate a series of strange tools: an x-ray beam directed at dormant seeds, a drop of chromosome-altering colchicine on a flower bud, and a piece of radioactive cobalt in a field of growing crops. According to scientific and popular reports of the time, these mutation-inducing methods would generate variation on demand, in turn allowing breeders to genetically engineer crops and flowers to order. Creating a new crop or flower would soon be as straightforward as innovating any other modern industrial product. In Evolution Made to Order, Helen Anne Curry traces the history of America's pursuit of tools that could speed up evolution. It is an immersive journey through the scientific and social worlds of midcentury genetics and plant breeding and a compelling exploration of American cultures of innovation. As Curry reveals, the creation of genetic technologies was deeply entangled with other areas of technological innovation--from electromechanical to chemical to nuclear. An important study of biological research and innovation in America, Evolution Made to Order provides vital historical context for current worldwide ethical and policy debates over genetic engineering."--Publisher's description.

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