Breeding innovation for organic

How New Genomic Techniques can benefit the organic sector

On Tuesday 28th February 2023 Bejo was a guest and speaker at the seminar which was hosted by Plants for the Future ETP in Brussels, themed on the potential of New Genomics Techniques (NGTs) and to discuss how they can benefit the organic sector.

Opening remarks were provided by MEP Jessica Polfjärd, requesting the EU commission to put forward a science-based legislative proposal that will enable the use of NGTs in Europe to support the transition to more sustainable food systems.

In his  presentation about Breeding for Organic, our Bram Weijland, Organic Affairs Coordinator at Bejo in the Netherlands, highlighted how conventional and organic breeding are interconnected and benefit from each other. Examples are the downy mildew-resistant onion and breeding of Brassica hybrids using cytoplasmic male sterility achieved through protoplast fusion, a technique that was exempted from GMO regulation.

Bram indicated that if use of NGTs is approved and regulated for conventional breeding, Bejo will consider using them in its organic breeding programs as well. As a result, the benefits of new resistances in vegetable varieties will also become available to organic growers, with the provision of information remaining transparent so that they retain freedom of choice.

Organic farmer Kasper Mejnertsen from Denmark, highlighted the need for innovation to support the organic sector, and mentioned the importance of plants as the source of food, feed and biomass.

Amrit Nanda, the Executive Manager of Plants for the Future ETP, discussed the challenges ahead and the need to provide solutions for farmers of all production systems focusing on synergies and how the best of both worlds could be leveraged for the benefit of all.

Plants for the Future looks forward to the European Commission's legislative proposal expected in June, and hopes for a positive outcome for the use of NGTs for both the conventional and organic sectors.


Bram Weijland in conversation with Eric Gall of IFOAM EU (middle) and Cesar Gonzalez of Euroseeds (right).