I agree with you insofar as the needs of a diverse gene pool. However, I feel that clonal propagation is a beautiful and wonderful thing. Plants evolved in a way that allows them to grow roots from the stem because at one point in time their environment was conducive to this behavior. Some of the benefits of clonal propagation are: the ability to keep a beautiful/productive/delicious specimen alive for more than one season, sharing a beloved plant with friends, more plants to sell, and most importantly as a reforestation tool; cut a tree down, root branches, replant. As for grafting, I have little knowledge, but being able to graft a cutting onto existing root stock or another plant sounds more efficient than cloning. as for hybridization, if you grow more than one variety of something, there is a chance that they will breed and make "your" gene pool bigger, whether the resulting offspring show excellent traits really depends on the parent stock though.
While in no danger of outright extinction, the most common edible banana cultivar Cavendish (extremely popular in Europe and the Americas) could become unviable for large-scale cultivation in the next 10 to 20 years. Its predecessor 'Gros Michel', discovered in the 1820s, suffered this fate. Like almost all bananas, Cavendish lacks genetic diversity, which makes it vulnerable to diseases, threatening both commercial cultivation and small-scale subsistence farming. Some commentators remarked that those variants which could replace what much of the world considers a "typical banana" are so different that most people would not consider them the same fruit, and blame the decline of the banana on monogenetic cultivation driven by short-term commercial motives.
julian kirby wrote:
What the Mexican farmers you heard about are doing is a great idea and should be practiced as often as possible. Nature can select for more traits quicker than we can.
I will argue with you Amedean, that in regards to disease, I'm gonna say about 50% of a plants susceptibility to infection is based on environmental factors the other half is genetics. you can grow a plant that is highly susceptible to fungal infections in soil amended with neem meal and it can confer protection from a plethora of pests and infections.