Plant Breeding is More than Genetic Engineering
The discussion on green genetic engineering in Germany has reignited in the past few days. At the same time, the public discussion on plant breeding is very frequently reduced to the topic of green genetic engineering. But for KWS, as a leading plant breeding company, the subject is much more complex: plant breeding is far more than just genetic engineering.
Plant breeding is based on a treasure trove of genetic resources, which is continuously being improved and adjusted to the changes in the environment. Product development thus follows the requirements of farmers throughout the world. Their goal is to achieve good quality with high yield while maintaining resistance to diseases and pests on their fields. This way, they meet the customers’ demands for healthy food at fair prices.
Breeding and research, which work hand-in-hand under a single roof at KWS, use different methods for this. These include cross-breeding and selection, hybrid breeding, cell biology, DNA markers, doubled-haploid technology, genome research as well as green genetic engineering. This close interaction between breeding and research and the use of many different methods are the essential success factors for effective plant breeding.
KWS orients by demand on the world markets. Farmers in many regions outside of Europe use genetically modified varieties on more than 150 million hectares as standard products. They do not distinguish between the methods used to breed plants – instead, they evaluate their characteristics.
The central research and breeding, including biotechnological methods, take place at KWS’ headquarters in Einbeck and in a worldwide research network with a selection of strong partners. Application-oriented trials with genetically modified varieties are increasingly being conducted in the regions where the products are also used and in demand.
Conclusion: Plant breeding and research continue to take place at KWS in Germany. However, the products of the globally oriented research in green genetic engineering are only used in those markets where there is suitable demand for them.
Dr. Henning von der Ohe