What goes around comes around...

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@starpower.net
Mon, 23 Jan 2006 19:05:17 PST
I've mentioned David Griffiths in these posts a number of times. I often
wonder how many people know about him and his work. The short version is
that in the early twentieth century, the US Department of Agriculture, in an
effort to establish new commercial crops, began a series of endeavors to
establish the cultivation of flower bulbs here in the United States. David
Griffiths was the Department's point man for these activities. 

Although there were sporadic efforts to work out programs in several parts
of the country, the centerpiece of the effort was the Bellingham Research
Station in Washington State. 

To put things into a broader historical perspective, Griffiths died in 1935.

Here's what prompts me to bring this up. I was talking to a hybridizer
friend recently, and they mentioned that they had received absolutely no
royalties for some bulbs which are now widely grown and marketed. In this
particular case, the hybridizer and marketer are good friends, and the
hybridizer had in effect told the marketer that royalties were not expected.

When Griffiths was managing the development of commercial bulb culture here
in the US, the source of the cultivars used was the Netherlands. Dutch bulbs
were imported into the US and used as the foundation stocks for the crops to
be developed in this country. The subject of royalties to the Dutch
developers of these stocks was never mentioned, and doubtless no royalties
were ever paid. 

One of the issues much discussed in the media these days is the problem of
pirated, black market music and video CDs which originate in Asia. It seems
to me that what those Asian black marketers are doing is no different than
what was done to establish commercial bulb cultivation in this country. I
wonder if the Dutch press in the early part of the twentieth century had
articles condemning our theft of their bulbs? 

How do the rest of you feel about this? How would you feel if you found out
that someone was selling a plant you raised without your permission? And do
you think  my comparison of the black market video industry and what was
done to establish commercial bulb culture in the US fair? 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where we didn't see the sun

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