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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

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Readers’ comments
Dean R., Australia, 4 March 2016
A soccer team develops cohesion & improves through the season & it is said to be evolving.It is such a loose term. Atheistic arguments seem to forget all about the fall unless they want to make fun of the talking snake. Pre fall food must have been excellent as no meat was needed. The ancients were into grafting, farming & irrigation. In our more modern "advanced society" we throw food away by the truck loads. The way God has made living things dependant on each other in this world (even post fall) is awe inspiring.
Aleksandar K., Croatia, 6 March 2016
Many modern crops we consume today were once inedible grass in the past??? So in the olden days people looking to eat said: "This grass in inedible. If we breed it long enough, we're sure it'll become something edible. Till then we'll eat take-out food."
Rob L., Canada, 7 March 2016
I don't see how the theory of evolution could support a plant changing in such a way as to increase its likelihood of death (by being eaten).
Richard L., United Arab Emirates, 8 March 2016
The evidentiary feebleness of evolutionary theory is masked by inadequate rigor in definition making. That lack leads to the plant-breeding "evolving" error exposed in this article. The following functional definition is helpful for discussion: Make a vertical column in the middle of a page (white board). Fill that central column with lifeform-change hard facts: -Lots of lifeform change (e.g., more than 200 dog breeds), -occurring fast (in only a few centuries), -ancestral pairs, -lifeform diversification within natural-process resources, BUT ALSO -a demonstrated tendency for such changes to cluster around intergenerationally-preserved 'themes' (FLUs = fundamental lifeform units). -loss of fitness (fragility, sterility) if change is too far from an FLU 'center', AND ALSO -Mendel's laws of genetic inheritance, -(empirical) natural selection, -random mutations. Any biological-history scenarios have to accord with these hard facts. Two possibilities exist. Using Denton's language, one possibility ("discontinuity"/ biblical-kinds, noted to one side of the hard-fact column) has the FLU tendency turn out to be an absolute, no exceptions. Isolated islands of reproduction. Note: Some FLU islands can be very big, allowing for much internal change. The other competitor (noted on the other side) is the "continuity"/evolution model, with near-islands of reproduction that all need to be connected by 'land bridges'. Which is reality? "Discontinuity" requires only within-FLU changes, no new FLUs. "Continuity" requires inter-FLU changes; NATURAL PROCESSES NEED TO BE ABLE TO CREATE NEW FLUs. That evolution-notion burden of proof has never been met! All textbook 'evolution' evidence (including breeding) I've seen only shows within-FLU change, supporting biblical kinds.
Chris W., United Kingdom, 8 March 2016
On line 6 of the article, the word 'staples' - what does this mean?
Don Batten responds
A word used by the commenter, I expect in the following sense: Staple - definition of staple by The Free Dictionarywww.thefreedictionary.com/staple A principal raw material or commodity grown or produced in a region. 2. A major item of trade in steady demand. 3. A basic dietary item, such as flour, rice, ...