The wide adaptation of wheat: Expanding the Rockefeller Foundation's international agricultural research program

by Marci Baranski

Jan 1, 2014
In my dissertation research, I study the history of studies on wheat adaptation to climate, beginning in the 1950s and through the 1970s. In the 1960s, Norman Borlaug, while working for the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) in Mexico, popularized the concept of wide adaptation -- meaning a crop that gives high yields and is stable across different environments. Before Borlaug popularized wide adaptation, most scientists believed the crops were best suited to the location and conditions that they were developed in. Borlaug and the RF's international wheat program challenged this conventional wisdom while expanding their wheat program in Latin and South America, South Asia, and the Middle East. Because the history of wheat improvement is closely tied to other RF programs in maize and rice, my research also examines these crop research programs.
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