Concluding Remarks

Many currently grown crops are considered to be genetically depauperate (Hoyt, 1988). Elite lines and hybrids derived from such germplasms are designed to yield well under relatively narrow and well-defined growing conditions. However, superior genotypes are used heavily in various crop breeding programmes, often resulting in considerable relatedness among cultivars grown across large geographical areas. Nevertheless, some crops are more narrow in their geographical distributions than others. In general, the narrow genetic base and specific goals used in breeding virtually all modern crops make it unlikely that crop breeders will be able to accommodate climatic changes, if such changes are large and rapid. Confounding this overall discussion are the issues of changes in the epidemiology of crop diseases, insect pest incidences and crop/weed competition.

In the final analysis, if climatic change occurs gradually, production agriculture will be able to adapt to such changes. This is more likely if continued improvements are made in modifying the crop biology through the use of molecular tools. However, it is difficult to predict the future with any confidence, given the uncertainties associated with current knowledge of the overall subject.

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