Address of the BSA President-Elect
Kellogg, Elizabeth .
Speaking of food.
When we try to get our students excited about plants, we often point out that almost everything we eat comes from plants, and that the world food supply depends totally on plant growth and development. But our research and scientific societies tend to reflect the 19th century division of botany into applied (agricultural) botany versus plant physiology and "botany proper" (classification). One of the great challenges of the coming decades will be feeding the world population, and in this situation the 19th century division of the field may not serve us well. The world's population stands at 7 billion today and will reach about 9 billion by mid-century. This raises an immediate problem of resources of all sorts, but particularly food. There is a temptation while doing basic research to focus on the immediate scientific problem and just hope that others will make the connection to applied disciplines as appropriate; however, the person doing the research is often the one best placed to make those connections. It is interesting that we frequently and easily connect our research to applied studies in conservation and land management, and to challenges such as a warming planet and the global extinction crisis. Why, except for historical inertia, should we not connect aspects of our work to the growth of plants for food? I suggest that an important goal for botanical research is to seek out points of intersection between basic studies on diverse plants and applied studies on major crops. Such intersections are not hard to find and will be increasingly important in the coming decades.
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1 - University of Missouri-St. Louis, Department of Biology, One University Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63121-4399, USA
Presentation Type: Special Presentation
Location: Franklin C and D/Hyatt
Date: Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
Time: 6:00 PM