What is it?

Seed is at the origin of all our food.

Without plant breeding, many of the foods we consume today would not even exist or they would at least not be that healthy or tasty. For centuries, farmers have tried to improve their crops by means of crossing, relying on the random rearrangement of existing genes between two closely related parent plants. The scientific approach to professional plant breeding has triggered an unprecedented acceleration. Today, modern agricultural biotechnology allows us to improve plants in more targeted ways, and give crops desirable characteristics, such as resistance to certain pests or herbicides, enhanced robustness against diseases, drought or water tolerance, or healthier profiles that can enhance nutrition.

Agricultural biotechnology (or green biotechnology) encompasses a range of modern plant breeding techniques. The best known technique is genetic modification, which means that existing genes are modified, or new genes included. Because only a few genes with known traits are transferred, GM methods are more targeted and faster than traditional breeding. The crops may be used for animal feed, food, biomaterials or energy production. They are used alongside conventionally bred crops. More farmers are now planting genetically modified (GM) crops globally than all EU farmers put together, on a surface that is larger than all EU arable land.

Europe also benefits from this technology, mainly indirectly through imports: we pay with GM cotton bank notes, wear GM clothes, and each year we feed our farm animals an amount of GM soybeans roughly equivalent to the combined weight of all EU citizens.  

You can find the English version of this pocket guide below, other translations of this document are also available.