Organic Plant Breeding in Europe: Seed for future food systems
29.11.2018 - 09:30
29.11.2018 - 16:00
Representation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia to the European Union
Rue Montoyer 47
Why organic plant breeding?
Tasty bread, delicious vegetables, fruit with high vitamin content – this is what you expect and usually get if you buy organic. The fundamental basis of all these products is seed. And each grain of seed has a long history: Generations of farmers and breeders have left their traces in the genome of vegetable and cereals.
Organic farmers today grow both, traditional varieties and “modern industrial” varieties. Traditional varieties offer a wide range of taste and biodiversity but are often not suited for producing larger quantities. “Modern industrial” varieties are bred to perform best with artificial fertilizers and pesticides– but not under organic farming conditions.
Numerous initiatives in Europe have started to develop “modern” varieties for organic farming. An IFOAM standard for organic plant breeding exists since 2014. But organic plant breeding is not yet mainstream.
What’s this conference about?
The conference will give an overview of successes of organic plant breeding till now, it will explore perspectives for the sector and will also discuss challenges and ways to overcome obstacles to the further development of organic plant breeding. It is the final event of the three-year project ‘Promoting Organic Plant Breeding in Europe’ (2016-2018). The projects’ results will be presented, focusing on best practice examples among European initiatives and strategies to make organic breeding a successful business. Political recommendations that would enable greater uptake of organic plant breeding and organic varieties will be discussed.
Also, the conference aims to explore the chances organic plant breeding offers to produce high quality food, increase biodiversity on our fields and increase climate change resilience of farming systems.
The project behind
The project ‘Promoting Organic Plant Breeding in Europe’ was initiated by the Demeter International e.V. EU Liaison Office in Brussels in January 2016. Organic plant breeding provides organic farmers with varieties which are adjusted to the low-input production system of organic agriculture. Increased organic plant breeding and cultivation will enhance the availability of regionally adapted varieties, agro-biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and environment protection.
While several breeding initiatives already work on a professional scale and have found financial support, most still lack financial stability. There are still European regions without organic breeding initiatives, mostly in the Mediterranean countries, and consequently there is lack of organic varieties suitable for these regions.
Aiming to promote the development and use of organic varieties on a European scale, the project ‘Promoting Organic Plant Breeding in Europe’ provides a platform for networking and discussion among organic plant breeders and stakeholders.
The event will be hosted by MEP Maria Heubuch (The Greens/EFA)