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Dierig, D. and J. Janick. 1999. Preface. p. xvi–xvii. In: J. Janick (ed.), Perspectives on new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.


David Dierig and Jules Janick

Perspectives on New Crops and New Uses is the fourth volume in a series of symposia proceedings that include Progress in New Crops, 1990, Timber Press, Portland Oregon; New Crops 1993, Wiley Press, New York; and Advances in New Crops, 1996, ASHS Press, Alexandria, Virginia. The present volume is based on the symposium entitled New Crops and New Uses: Biodiversity and Agricultural Sustainability, held November 8 to 11, l998, in Phoenix, Arizona and jointly organized by the Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops (AAIC), the Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products, and the New Uses Council, Inc. The symposium objectives were to broaden discussions on the relationship of new crops to the topics of global biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, and new uses of alternative and conventional crops. We were also interested in drawing attention to the issues of new crops and new uses as well as to stimulate dialog among farmers, public and private researchers, industry, and policy makers. While the program was national in emphasis, there was a significant international contingent; half of the posters were from overseas contributors. Consequently significant interest was expressed in the organization of an overseas, international symposium, perhaps in 2001.

The conference included about 250 participants representing a broad spectrum of interests and backgrounds. The 4-day program consisted of invited presentations, posters, panel discussions, as well as a tour, dinner and panel discussion at the Desert Botanical Garden. Audience participation throughout was vigorous and contentious with strong views opined around such topics as intellectual property rights, the rights of farmers to save seed, neutraceutical and medicinal crops, and research policy. We were pleased that our reception speaker, Dr. I. Miley Gonzalez, Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, U.S. Department of Agriculture, indicated that he plans to support an initiative included in the 2001 federal budget on new crops and new uses. Most significantly, we discerned a general concensus that the concept of new crops and new uses, was beginning to have an impact beyond the wishes of its champions, with discernable positive effects on US and world agriculture. There was evidence of proactive action taken by industry, the research community, farmers, and marketers for new crops and new uses, and clearly the issue has reached the consciousness of the consuming public. The ten years since the first meeting in Indianapolis in l988 has witnessed a number of concrete advances such as the establishment of the Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops (AAIC), incorporation of new crops language in the Farm Bill of 1998, the creation of the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute, and general acceptance of a number of new crops and uses.

We acknowledge the assistance of many of our colleagues for this symposium and this volume of the proceedings. These include Dennis Ray of AAIC and Kennith Foster of the New Crops Council who served as co-conference organizer, Steven McLaughlin, Robert Myers, and James Simon who served on the program committee, Francis Nakayama for editing the Abstracts and Program booklet, Gail Dahlquist for registration, John Nelson for tours, Pernell Tomasi for poster management, and Anna Whipkey for her computer expertise in the preparation of this volume. The many sponsors are listed next to the title page but we would like to express our appreciation for the major supporters especially the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and associated organizations including the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Alternative Agricultural Research and Commercialization (AARC), and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE), as well as contributions from the Fund for Rural America’s Crop Diversification Center and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) who financed the participation of our keynote speaker, Vernon Heywood.

This volume includes papers from invited participants, some of the panel discussions, as well as those who submitted posters. Contributions include a diverse assortment of crops, topics, and views and, as previous volumes, the volume is divided in three parts:

The addresses of all contributors are presented on p. ix to xv. A detailed index to species, crops, and products is found on p. 513 and the index of authors is found on p. 527.

Anson E. Thompson

It is our pleasure to dedicate this volume to the late Anson Ellis Thompson in recognition of his impact on the development of new industrial crops. Dr. Thompson, known to his many friends and colleagues as "Tommy," passed away on June 14, 1996 at the age of 72. We miss him. Tommy was internationally recognized and respected for his leadership on new industrial crop development; he initiated and led research in developing cuphea, lesquerella, guayule, and vernonia. He was respected for his enthusiasm, integrity, ideas, energy, and achievements as a researcher and teacher, and for his loyalty and openness as a human being. We hope that this volume as well as our continued efforts in developing new crops and new uses will be a lasting tribute to him.