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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PREDICTING INTERACTIVE EFFECTS OF CO2, TEMPERATURE, AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS ON AGRICULTUAL PRODUCTIVITIY Title: Book Review of "improvement of Crop Plants for Industrial End Use"

Author
item White, Jeffrey

Submitted to: Field Crops Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 15, 2008
Publication Date: May 10, 2008
Citation: White, J.W. 2008. Book review of "Improvement of crop plants for industrial end use". Field Crops Research. 107(2):184

Interpretive Summary: Industrial crops are acquiring greater importance as countries seek to reduce their dependence on raw materials and energy derived from coal, oil and natural gas. Thus, a thorough assessment of the prospects for improving industrial crops is timely. The book Improvement of Crop Plants for Industrial End Use, reviewed in this short article, seeks to provide such an assessment. Given the technical complexity of the science and policy issues affecting improvement of industrial crops, however, it is surprising that the preface states that the book will “be of great interest to scientists, researchers, farmers, processors and retailers, but also to students, technocrats and planners.” The seventeen chapters cover topics ranging from agronomy, to increasing yield potential, to introducing genes into plants for the synthesis of medically useful compounds. The material is generally relevant, clearly presented and current, but the writing style assumes a university-level understanding of plant physiology and genomics. This will limit the usefulness of the text for potential readers. Arguably, a different mix of chapters, including discussion of regulatory issues surrounding use of genetically modified organisms ("transgenics") would widen the usefulness of the book. Nonetheless, many of the chapters make useful, interesting reading for people with adequate technical background. The book also might serve as the text for a graduate level course on industrial crops. This book review should help potential readers decide whether the book meets their individual needs.

Technical Abstract: Industrial crops are acquiring greater importance as countries seek to reduce their dependence on raw materials and energy derived from fossil sources. Thus, a thorough assessment of the prospects for improving industrial crops is timely. The book Improvement of Crop Plants for Industrial End Use, reviewed in this short article, seeks to provide such an assessment. Given the technical complexity of the science and policy issues affecting improvement of industrial crops, however, it is surprising that the preface states that the book will “be of great interest to scientists, researchers, farmers, processors and retailers, but also to students, technocrats and planners.” The seventeen chapters cover topics ranging from agronomy, to increasing yield potential, to introducing genes into plants for the synthesis of medically useful compounds. The material is generally relevant, clearly presented and current, but the writing style assumes a university-level understanding of plant physiology and genomics. This will limit the usefulness of the text for potential readers. Arguably, a different mix of chapters, including discussion of regulatory issues surrounding use of genetically modified organisms ("transgenics") would widen the usefulness of the book. Nonetheless, many of the chapters make useful, interesting reading for people with adequate technical background. The book also might serve as the text for a graduate level course on industrial crops. This book review should help potential readers decide whether the book meets their individual needs.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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