European perspectives of organic plant breeding and seed production in a genomics era

E. Lammerts Van Bueren, K.P. Wilbois, H. Ostergard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

For further optimisation of organic agricultural systems, more focus is required on organically produced seeds and the development of better adapted varieties. Organic plant breeding and seed production need to comply with the concept of naturalness as applied in organic agriculture, which not only includes the nonchemical and agro-ecological approaches, but also the integrity of life approach. As organic environments are less controllable and are more variable, breeding should aim at improved yield stability and product quality by being adapted to organic soil fertility as well as sustainable weed, pest and disease management. Also the ability to produce economicacceptable seed yield avoiding seed-borne diseases should be included. On the short term, organic plant production can gain better yield stability by increasing within-crop diversity by the use of mixtures of conventionally bred varieties or crop populations. Because of expected genotype by environment interaction more research is needed to define the best selection environment for selecting organic varieties. To arrive at better adapted varieties for organic farming systems the role of practical participatory plant breeding may be crucial. Although organic farming is clear on excluding the use of genetically modified organisms and their derivates, the use of molecular markers is still under debate. Questions arise with respect to their efficiency in selecting the most important organic traits, such as yield stability, and on the compounds and substances to produce and apply them. A major concern for a GM-free organic agriculture is an increasing contamination with genetically modified organisms in organic production and products, i.e., the problems related to co-existence of GM and non- GM agriculture. This paper discusses some important factors with regard to possible impact of co-existence on organic farming. Perspectives to a global scale of organic plant breeding and seed production are given from a European point of view.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-120
JournalJournal of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Tropics and Subtropics
VolumeSuppl. 89
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Keywords

  • seed production
  • genotype environment interaction
  • genetic diversity
  • genetic engineering
  • organic plant breeding

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