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Dutch Treat


There has been so much overblown discussion about Dutch spending on
hosta research that one is tempted to suggest that we make a comparative
analysis of the costs and benefits of current research and development
efforts in hosta promotion. Since the Hosta sub-sector has become big
business in the horticultural world, we could look at R and D
expenditures and investment as a whole to compare who is spending how
much on what to promote hostas.This look at the situation is a type of
research itself....i.e.agricultual economic research  on the impact of
investment on economic growth and development of hostas in horticulture.
Do we have a spare Agricultural Economist among us to make such a study?
I doubt it. But we are capable of thinking about the subject and
developing a "feel" or certain instincts or intuition about the
magnitude of current R and D investments in improving hostas' position
in ornamental horticulture.

Think of all of the investments in money, time, people and effort made
in the importation of improved plant material, seed production  and
distribution,hybridization and sport selection, testing, observation and
propagation  by literally hundreds of professionals and hobbyists in the
US and elsewhere. Consider the thousands of trials, demonstrations  and
observations, the record keeping and written descriptions of the  world
of plant materials under study.as well as the management practices,
studies involving fertilizers, pest control materials and practices
conducted by all of the nurseries, tc labs and gardens. Think how well
the results of these research efforts can be transplanted to other
countries of the world to improve the hosta industry. Then compare all
of these R and D efforts and investments to the insignificant 100.000
dollars mentioned as Dutch spending most likely to provide 100 percent
of a plant geneticist's salary and prorated costs for his share of space
and related materials in a laboratory at Leiden U.to do ( or not do)
research in "pure" science as he wishes.

Then go back again and compare this to the sizeable funding which
corresponds to the hundreds of other Rand D efforts made in the US.  I
suspect that we have made much ado about a rather insignificant Dutch
investment effort in hosta research now being threatened with

I know personally scores  of individual private Americans who are
working full time, using their own funds and other resources , effort
and time , performing  R and D  activities without pay or with only
minor reimbursement on their research investment efforts. Among many of
these acquaintances, I have first hand knowledge that their efforts are
producing significant returns in developing improved plant materials ,
improved management practices and better knowledge of hosta scientific
technology. We don't think much of their activities as being hosta
research but that is what they are. And they are continuing without
hoopla or complaining..

So let's not get carried away  with the glamor and importance of claimed
scientific research conducted somewhere in a scientific laboratory  to
the tune of  a mere 100.000 dollars. Will we survive with the threat of
these Dutch funds disappearing ?  You decide!

Jim Hawes

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