Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

Scientific Publications

The strong perennial vision: a response

Author: Timothy E. Crews and Lee R. DeHaan

Publication: Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 39:500-515


This article was written as a response to Chris Smaje’s review, “The Strong Perennial Vision: A Critical Review”. In his review, Smaje argues that society in general, and the research community in particular should question whether to invest substantially in the development of perennial grains because a) ecological theory suggests that perennial grains may yield less than annual grains; b) strong criticisms of annual agriculture are unfounded, both socially and ecologically; and c) focus on perennial grains detracts from more important strategies for achieving agricultural sustainability. We counter these three arguments by showing a) that Grime’s C-S-R theory employed by Smaje is not meaningful when used to predict the “evolvability” of perennial species under selection in agricultural environments; b) that annual grain ecosystems have not broadly achieved an acceptable level of ecosystem function or resilience; and c) that perennial grain research is not currently attracting the attention or resources that other, less promising and less transformative research efforts garner.

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