The 28th APWSS Conference to be held at Phuket, Thailand during 26 to 29 November 2023           |           Weeds-Journal of the APWSS Vol. 4, Issue 2, 2022

Volume-3 | Issue-1 (January-June) | Year 2021

‘Aliens’, ‘Natives’ and ‘Artificial Habitat’- Revisiting the Legacies of H.C. Watson and S.T. Dunn
Nimal R. Chandrasena

KEYWORDS:

‘Aliens’; H. C. Watson; S. T. Dunn; ‘invasive species’; invasions; weeds

Abstract:

Hewett Cottrell Watson, a British botanist and phyto-geographer, might rightfully be the first to apply the term ‘alien’ to denote ‘foreign’ species introduced to Britain, which successfully established at various locations in the isles with or without man’s help. Botanists recognize Watson for his monumental work Cybele Britannica, written in four volumes over 12 years (1847-1859). While applying the term ‘alien’, along with ‘natives’ (indigenous species), ‘denizens’ (long-term residents, introduced species, who might be considered ‘naturalized) and ‘colonists’ (species, colonizing agricultural land and habitat occupied by humans), Watson discussed in detail how difficult it is to assign ‘nativeness’ to any species. Stephen Troyte Dunn, who wrote ‘Alien Flora of the British Isles’ in 1905, partly adopted H. C. Watson’s categorization of species. Both worked without much knowledge of the geological and fossil evidence of plants but agreed that all species, even ‘natives’, may have been immigrants sometime in the past. All of Watson and Dunn’s ‘alien’ species have several things in common. They are all highly productive (fertile), pioneering or colonizing taxa, which can establish and thrive in disturbed environments (‘artificial habitat’, sensu S. T. Dunn), from which they perpetuate themselves. Knowledge about the ‘foreign’ components of a country’s flora is ecologically important to understand how species adapt to new environments and influence others. Both Watson and Dunn emphasized the remarkable ability of some introduced to spread, unassisted by man’s activities, while others, like ‘shadows of men’, appear to ‘follow the plough’. The ‘colonization process’ of these highly successful plants gets them into trouble in the minds of some, who prefer to attribute other meanings, such as ‘invasions’ to these “foreign” species. A dip into history shows that Watson and Dunn discussed introduced plants without disparaging them. Like humans, colonizing taxa are good at what they are genetically predisposed to do, i.e., adapt and survive even under stressful environments. They are no more ‘alien’ than we are. They are also no more ‘invasive’ than we are. As one historian (Alfred Crosby) noted, these species may even help heal the wounds on the earth, torn apart by the real ‘invaders’ – those ‘wretched ingrates’ (humans).

Email

nimal.chandrasena@gmail.com

Address

Current Address: Nature Consulting, 17, Billings Way, Winthrop, WA 6150, Australia
The Parable of Pines in Australia
John Dwyer

KEYWORDS:

Radiata Pine; environmental weeds; invasive alien species; Australian weeds

Abstract:

This article discusses the introduction and present status in Australia of Pinus radiata D. Don (known as Monterey Pine, Californian Pine, Radiata Pine, or Remarkable Pine) and speculates why expressions, such as 'environmental weeds' and 'invasive alien species' have been applied to it. It questions whether moves to remove this introduced species in the interests of conservation are based on science or cultural values of particular groups and touches on the implications for how we value and manage our 'natural' environments.

Email

thedwyers@ozemail.com.au

Address

Independent Writer, Melbourne, Australia
The Saga of Genetically-Modified (GM) and HerbicideTolerant (HT) Crops in India
Nanjapur Yaduraju

KEYWORDS:

GM crops, Bt cotton, Bt brinjal, GM mustard, Herbicide tolerant crops, HTBt cotton

Abstract:

This essay is a personal opinion on India's struggles with the regulatory management of technologies involving genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). I intend to provide an analytical viewpoint relevant to India, based on my own experience, both as a weed scientist and a former Research Director. Approved in 2002, insect-resistant Bt cotton2 (Gossypium hirsutum L.) is the only genetically-modified (GM) crop that is currently being grown in India. Bt cotton technology is considered a success story, which catapulted India into the second-largest cotton producer globally with additional benefits of enhanced farmer's income and decreased pesticide use. The opponents of GM technology, however, have a different story to tell. Since then, there have been many attempts to introduce other GM crops, notably with insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant (HT) traits. Despite years of successful regulatory trials and approval by the highest regulatory body, Bt brinjal (Solanum melongena L.) and HT mustard (Brassica juncea (L.) Czern.) technologies were put on hold by the Government, owing to the strong opposition by the anti-GM Lobby. The Government's inability to develop a sound national policy on GMOs and its weakness to deal firmly with activists opposing GM technology are sending the wrong signals. They scuttle innovation, introduce an element of doubting science, prevent access to advanced technologies and private investments. On a more practical note, the indifference and the inordinate delay in Government's action are resulting in large scale illegal cultivation of herbicide-tolerant Bt cotton (HTBt cotton) in several states for the last 4- 5 years. There have been widespread protests by farmers and farmer groups demanding access to GM technology. The Government is trying to regulate the use of herbicide glyphosate to stem the illegal cultivation of HTBt cotton. The move will have an adverse impact as it will deprive farmers of a herbicide, which is hugely popular and has the largest market share. It is to be seen what the Government will do with the illegal cultivation of HTBt cotton. Will it go the Bt cotton way? Unable to find a solution to the illicit trade of and unauthorized cultivation of GM cotton, the Government gave official approval for Bt cotton in 2002. Will history repeat itself is a million-dollar question.

Email

nyaduraju@gmail.com

Address

Address: Paramount Prime Apartments, Yadavagiri, Mysore- 570020, India