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Plant breeding is not evolution

Plant claims hard to digest

A reader named Vanya had an interesting question regarding claims that evolutionists make that once inedible foods ‘evolved’ to become edible. She wrote:

Recently, I’ve come across several articles on plant evolution that report how many modern crops we consume today were once inedible grass in the past, and that they were “evolved” through genetic mutation and artificial selection to produce the edible foodstuffs.

While I don’t believe that any of these claims support the theory of evolution, I’ve also seen people use these reports to attack creation, because, apparently, the original world could not have been “very good” if man are forced to rely on these “lucky” mutations to obtain the staples they need to survive.

I’m not sure how to respond to this, so I’d really appreciate your help on this. Thank you very much, and God bless your ministry.

Agricultural scientist and CEO of CMI-Australia, Dr Don Batten, responded:

Dear Vanya,

When God originally created everything, He proclaimed it “very good”. However, it did not stay that way for long. Following the sin of Adam and Eve, God said that they would struggle to survive (“ … cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread [food]”, Genesis 3:17–19). So, from a biblical perspective, the food available after the Fall was indeed deficient/difficult. There could be various aspects to this, such as: ‘easy’ foods no longer being available, the staples would produce less nutritious food, the soil would not be as productive, and that pests and diseases would make it difficult.

I have no problem with the concept that mankind has selected and developed various crop foods to make them nicer to eat, or easier to cultivate (but sometimes not as nutritious/healthy!). This has nothing to do with ‘Evolution’, as there is no evidence that the processes involved the natural addition of new genetic information to the species involved (mutations are the only game in town for the evolutionist to achieve this and they are clearly not up to the job; see Mutations Questions and Answers). The natural processes of mutation and natural (or artificial) selection do not add new biochemical pathways to living things.

However, sometimes I believe that the story of crop development is embellished, possibly to make the profession of plant breeding look more impressive. For example, a ‘wild’ form of a crop found today is held up as being like that which gave rise to what we cultivate today. This might or might not be the case, but it could be a form that degenerated from an earlier type that was more like the varieties of today (I am not questioning that it has been developed, just the degree of development sometimes claimed. Indeed, with some of the claims it is difficult to see how people could ever have seen any potential in trying to select from the degenerate forms claimed to be ancestral).

There is a brief discussion of this matter in reference to evolution here: Science, Creation and Evolutionism.

Every blessing,

Don Batten
Published: 5 March 2016

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