My name is Paul Gowan. I am in my mid 40s. I am interested in this site and would like to find and converse with others who have an interest in amateur and Open Plant Breeding and Education.
I grew up in Southwestern Ontario, Canada and had a good deal of experience with agricultural production as my father and grandparents were agricultural producers. I took a course in Agriculture in my grade 10 class and had high marks. In the Agriculture class the plant genetics portion covered everything that is in current (2010) first year University biology on genetics and a little bit more. My family moved to another province in 1981 and I had numerous other experiences involving agricultural production until I entered University.
In 1995, I was extremely fortunate to become involved as a co-owner in an effort to continue some work in plant breeding that had been started by a well-known Ph.D. who went private in the mid 1980's after working for decades with the Government of Canada but whose private company eventually ceased to exist after his death and several subsequent corporate mergers.
One of my first duties was to watch over a burning barrel of seed that was all that was left of 10 years of private research and development. The elite material had already been removed by the departing Corporation and an agreement was reached to keep some open pollinated material and material that was less than S3. The founder had died and an attempt to keep the company going by affiliates in Europe ended when the affiliate was taken over by a larger company and then the larger company decided to close the operations in the province in favour of research stations in other provinces. The original company did not survive its first decade.
As a result of my experiences I am convinced that Dr. Roger Schank's ideas regarding educational reform are correct and I am interested in developing "hands-on" educational material of the type that Dr. Schank has been involved in creating. There is a lot I could say about how useful (or useless) the genetics material I studied in my Agricultural class was. In class, one has information that one does not have in the field, and may not even be able to obtain in practice. Overall, the academic class was backwards to reality and not "hands on" enough. One possibility involves 4H plant breeding clubs.
I am also interested in problems regarding education and accreditation. I ran into a lot of prejudice and arrogance and witnessed abuses of accreditation in other fields of work "to keep the pikers out" or to keep wages low. At the same time, there are matters that require accreditation of some kind because of the seriousness of working with pests and diseases among other things. One would not like to be a regional Typhoid Mary. E.g. seed must be inspected and fumigation overseen by a person with a Ph.D. and the inspection attested to by the Ph.D.'s signature on the Phytosanitary certificate sent with the seed that is shipped to an international destination.
I would also like to promote amateur plant breeding, public plant breeding and open plant breeding to ensure against the loss of biodiversity and partly as a preventative measure against large Corporations seeking to monopolize global seed collections and possibly destroying collections to enhance the value of their Genetically Modified products.