Seeds, sex and civilization: how the hidden life of plants has shaped our world.

Seeds, sex and civilization: how the hidden life of plants has shaped our world. Peter Thompson.

Port Melbourne: Thames and Hudson, 2010. Octavo, dustwrapper, colour photographs.

In this absorbing history, Peter Thompson explores how mankind has gradually learned what seeds are, where they come from and their role in the survival of the productivity of crops and wildflowers. Thompson brings to life the eccentrics, explorers, amateurs and highly dedicated professionals who have accumulated our knowledge. Some are well known, such as Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel; others, like the Russian geneticist Nikolai Vivilov, are less so. The book concludes with a chapter by Stephen Harris on current debates about genetically modified crops, seed conservation and plant ownership in the contemporary world.

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