New Plant Breeding Techniques

New Plant Breeding Techniques

Over the past 100 years, the world population has grown exponentially from 1.75 to today 7.2 billion, creating an ever increasing demand for plant based raw materials for food and feed as well as industrial uses. Based on the discoveries of Mendel of the reproductive biology and inheritance of traits of plant species in the mid-19th century, a highly specialised plant breeding sector evolved. Plant breeders created new varieties based on crossing and selecting desired, valuable traits that increase yields, improve resistances against pests and diseases and that are adapted to new or adverse growing conditions. Together with a growing mechanization, professional use of fertilisers and crop protection and other innovations, this has allowed for a stunning increase of agricultural production that has increased global food security, spared wild habitats from being cleared for food production, and that contributes to social stability and societal development.

Yet, while the achievements are impressive, in the light of continued rapid population growth and growing worldwide demand for a varied, high quality food supply, further progress in plant breeding innovation has unprecedented importance. Furthermore, this progress must not only deliver higher yields or nutritional values but is also expected to contribute to environmental protection, preservation of natural resources and public health.

Further discoveries and advanced understanding of the biology, physiology, genetics and chemistry of plants and their interaction with the environment will continue to fuel the flow of plant breeding innovations. ESA is convinced that the continuous advances in science and technological development will provide the necessary new tools and techniques to plant breeders to further drive innovation and develop new varieties more quickly, more efficiently and for more diverse environments and uses than ever before. However, the future use of such new tools and techniques, developed and used by the public and private plant breeding sectors, and the introduction of the resulting new plant varieties in commercial farming will strongly depend on an enabling regulatory environment and a supportive public policy. This should be supported by a consistent, enabling political and regulatory approach.

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