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The Viking in the Wheat Field: A Scientist's Struggle to Preserve the World's Harvest

Susan Dworkin.
Publisher Walker  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.25 x 0.85 inches
ISBN 9780802717405
Pages/Publication Date 240/2009
Daedalus Item Code 31927
This item is not available.
In 1999, a destructive new form of wheat stem rust—spotted in Uganda and dubbed "UG99"—quickly turned robust golden fields into dark, tangled ruins. Unchecked, UG99 could spread all over the world, including the United States. Breeders began searching seed collections for sources of resistance, assisted in large part by the Center for Improvement of Maize and Wheat in Mexico, developed by Danish scientist Bent Skovmand, who for decades had amassed, multiplied, and documented thousands of wheat varieties. Susan Dworkin profiles a scientist who, in an era when breeding information is jealously guarded by corporations and governments, fights to keep his seed bank a center for free, open scientific exchange.

"Susan Dworkin has found a delightful way to tell the alarming story of the fragility of the global wheat crop. She leads us expertly and enthusiastically into Bent Skovmand's strange, infrequently penetrated domain of plant breeding and international seed banks, a world in which unsung scientists search and save exotic plant germplasm to protect the staffs of life against pests, plagues and corporate raiders. As the Viking himself warns in Dworkin's book, 'If the seeds disappear, so could your food. So could you'."—Peter Pringle

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