Global
Agriculture

Did you know that chihuahuas have something in
common with cabbages? 

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Today’s pet dogs were domesticated over thousands of years from wolves, thanks to selective breeding and domestication by man. The same selective approach was used to breed many of the vegetable varieties we eat today from naturally occurring wild species. For example did you know that cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts all originated from the same wild plant [1] ?

The need to breed new crop varieties which are resilient to climate change and which can help reduce environmental impact has never been so urgent. Fortunately, new genomic/breeding techniques (also known as NBTs) are now available to help meet these important challenges.

They could be used by plant breeders to accelerate Europe’s ability to achieve objectives set out in the Farm to Fork and Green Deal strategies and make important contributions to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals such as Zero Hunger and Promoting Biodiversity. However, their ability to do so will depend on policymakers permitting commercialization of these innovative crops.

A good example of how NBTs can preserve traditional grape varieties such as, Sangiovese, Riesling and Pinot Noir, while efficiently selecting new attributes is illustrated in this infographic [2]. Further information on regulation of NTBs can found here [3] as well as an informative FAQ [4].

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[1] BBC.co.uk - Bitesize. Part of Biology (Single Science): Selective breeding and gene technology 

[2] Euroseed: Innovation to preserve tradition fungi-resistant grape vine (2020) 

[3] Schmidt, Belisle & Frommer: The evolving landscape around genome  editing in agriculture. EMBO Rep (2020) 21:e50680 

[4] EuropaBio: Genome Editing FAQ