European seed group asks EC to recognize plant breeding role

On behalf of the European plant breeding and seed sector, ESA responded to an

online consultation

on the work programme 2018-2020 of

Horizon2020. ESA underlined the priorities for the European plant breeding and seed industry, asking the Commission to recognise the important role of the sector in addressing societal challenges.

In order to meet future challenges, and especially the ones included in Societal Challenge 2, as sustainable food security, environmental and climate smart agriculture, the next work programme will have to focus on sustainable and innovative solutions.

The plant breeding and seed sector already deliver products adapted to different climatic conditions and meeting users' needs. More could be done orienting the next work programme towards agricultural models, where modern and precision tools will be available across the agri-food chain.

Defining breeding goals in rapidly changing climatic conditions represents a major challenge to future crop production. Research in this area, helping to model climatic trends and genetic constructs, has to provide additional resources and knowledge to better adapt breeding programs. Multidisciplinary and integrative projects, combining several scientific disciplines, should be promoted.

Plant genetic resources help breeders developing varieties adapting to those different climatic conditions, but more knowledge about unexplored resources is required. Pre-breeding research, to first identify and then characterize those resources for all crops, will need to be at the centre of the next research and innovation projects.

Genetic resources and innovative tools will also allow favourable research area indirectly linked to the agri-food sector, as health. Micronutrients enhanced crops will contribute to tackle health and malnutrition problems, which pose a serious threat for Europe and extra-EU countries.