Crop Biotech Update

Study Highlights Impact of Plant Breeding in the EU

September 14, 2016

Plant breeding innovation has brought significant impacts in European agriculture, such as increase in yield with fewer inputs and less effect on the environment, according to an EU-wide study.

The report The Economic, Social, and Environmental Value of Plant Breeding in the European Union was released by Hffa Research GmbH and was commissioned by the European Technology Platform. The objective of the study was to provide science-based but easy-to-understand information on the socio-economic and environmental benefits of plant breeding in the EU. Through complex modelling and calculation tools, the findings of the study showed that "plant breeding innovations count a lot." It was reported that plant breeding contributes approximately 74 percent productivity growth on all major arable crops planted in the EU since 2000. This is equivalent to 1.24 percent yield increase per year. This also translates to a boost in the amount of available food, decrease in food prices, and economic prosperity.

Aside from yield increase, plant breeding has decreased the total use of other planting inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides, machinery, and labor by 0.5 percent for 15 years. Thus, plant breeding enables "sustainable intensification" by allowing farmers to produce more with less input and reduced effect on the environment.

Read the report from European Technology Platform. See more infographics about the report from the British Society of Plant Breeders' newsletter, Plant Breeding Matters.