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Sustainable organic plant breeding: Final report - a vision, choices, consequences and steps

Lammerts van Bueren, E.T.; Hulscher, M.; Jongerden, J.; Ruivenkamp, G.T.P.; Haring, M.; van Mansvelt, J.D. and den Nijs, A.M.P. (1999) Sustainable organic plant breeding: Final report - a vision, choices, consequences and steps. Louis Bolk Instituut Publications, no. G24. Louis Bolk Instituut and Wageningen UR, Plant Breeding.

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Summary

In general, the characteristics of organic varieties - and by extension of organic plant breeding - differ from that of conventional breeding systems and conventional varieties. Realising an organic plant breeding system and subsequently steering it to meet changing demands is no less than a mammoth task. The many actions to be undertaken can be divided into short-term commercial and scientific activities, and longer or long-term commercial and scientific activities.
Action must be taken in the short-term to ensure adequate quantities of organically propagated plants and seed. This is vital in consideration of Regulation 2092/91/EC which states that, as of 1 January 2000, all propagating material used in organic production must be of organic origin.
Additional measures are needed to accelerate the development of organically propagated varieties. Within the breeding sector, variety groups should be established to streamline communication in the chain. Variety groups should have a large contingent of farmers, as well as representatives from the trade branch and breeders. Members should communicate intensively with each other, share experiences, and participate in trials and variety assessments. Questions, wishes and bottlenecks could be recorded by variety groups and passed on to other parties in the chain.
The practical details of the plant health concept which is at the basis of organic breeding must be worked out (operationalised). This will require scientific research, for example on:
 root development and mineral absorption efficiency
 weed suppressive capacity
 in situ versus ex situ maintenance
 resistance breeding in combination with cultivation measures
 seed-transmitted diseases
 adaptive capacity
 alternatives for growth stimulants, silver nitrate and silver thiosulfate in the cultivation of cucumbers and pickles
Such research should be carried out by academic institutions (such as Wageningen University and Research Centre) in collaboration with Louis Bolk Institute, Stichting Zaadgoed and private companies. A platform should be established to make an inventory of problems and priorities and to develop research proposals. Farmers could contribute their ideas to the platform through the variety groups.
Conclusion
A plant breeding system for organic production should be based on the organic concept of plant health and on the organic position on chain relationships. As the total land area under organic production is still relatively small, it is unlikely that commercial breeders will make large investments to develop organic breeding programmes without financial support from other parties, i.e. the government. In this early stage, it is vital that the government provides generous funding and plays an active enabling role. We hope that the action plan to stimulate organic plant breeding, as requested by Parliament, will dovetail with the activities described above.


EPrint Type:Report
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Breeding, genetics and propagation
Values, standards and certification
Research affiliation: Netherlands > Louis Bolk Institute
Netherlands > Wageningen University and Research Centre WUR
Deposited By: Steinbuch, Luc
ID Code:1419
Deposited On:02 Oct 2003
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:28
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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