Masterminding Nature: The Breeding of Animals, 1750-2010

Masterminding Nature: The Breeding of Animals, 1750-2010

by Margaret Derry


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In Masterminding Nature, Margaret Derry examines the evolution of modern animal breeding from the invention of improved breeding methodologies in eighteenth-century England to the application of molecular genetics in the 1980s and 1990s. A clear and concise introduction to the science and practice of artificial selection, Derry’s book puts the history of breeding in its scientific, commercial, and social context.

Masterminding Nature explains why animal breeders continued to use eighteenth-century techniques well into the twentieth century, why the chicken industry was the first to use genetics in its breeding programs, and why it was the dairy cattle industry that embraced quantitative genetics and artificial insemination in the 1970s, as well as answering many other questions. Following the story right up to the present, the book concludes with an insightful analysis of today’s complex relationships between biology, industry, and ethics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442626522
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Publication date: 03/18/2015
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.05(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Margaret E. Derry is an adjunct professor in the Department of History at the University of Guelph.

Table of Contents



1. Artificial Selection Theory and Livestock Breeding, 1750–1900

2. Early Developments in Genetics

3. Practical Breeding via Theoretical Population Genetics

4. New Directions: Artificial Insemination Technology and Quantitative Genetics

5. Molecular Genetics, Genomics, and Livestock Breeding

6. Biology, Industry Needs, and Morality in Livestock Breeding





What People are Saying About This

Sandra Swart

Masterminding Nature is an impressive, detailed, and thorough book by an expert who has both academic and hands-on experience in the realm of domesticated animal breeding. It is crisp, clear, and meticulous.”

Bert Theunissen

“Margaret E. Derry’s book provides an overview that will serve as a starting and reference point for animal breeding studies for years to come. A pleasure to read, the book presents the subject matter in an accessible way: no specialist knowledge is required to understand her narrative.”

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