Country mouse on breeding

Since this magazine stood up for GM crops earlier this year, most of the mainstream media has followed. Humans have been breeding better plants and animals for generations but, when done by botanists or farmers rather than ’scientists’, nobody complained. As Mark Twain noted: ‘A cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.’

Genetics is something we are all fascinated by, whether choosing vegetables to eat, deciding on what type of dog to own or even, subconsciously, when choosing our partner. Whether we care to admit it or not, we like our choices to be ‘well bred’; they taste better, behave better and match better except in the case of Jack Russell terriers, where dodgy breeding is a badge of honour. The epitome of the breeding principle is the racehorse: all thoroughbreds are descended from just four stallions and billions of pounds are spent trying to mate the best with the best, with the ultimate goal being the Derby. Each year, an exclusive dinner is held before the race.

The attendees would regard themselves as being very well bred; few occasions attract more titles. What a shame, then, that a minority behaved so rudely during the speech. It proved that it is possible to produce a well-bred yob