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Agricultural areas: over 21.5 million hectares have been saved since 2000

New study by Hffa Research for Euroseeds/Attachment

In the last twenty years in Europe, genetic improvement has allowed yields to be increased by 1.16% every year, making it possible not to use more than 21.5 million hectares of land for agricultural purposes. These are some of the data that emerged from the study "The economic, social and environmental value of vegetable breeding in Europe and for some EU member states" conducted by Hffa Research for Euroseeds, the association representing the European seed sector, and presented yesterday at Brussels.

According to the study by Hffa Research, a research company specialized in the agricultural sector, from 2000 to today at the European level, genetic improvement has been the innovative factor that has had the greatest impact on the increase in yields for the main crops. Furthermore, it also had a positive impact in terms of limiting the ecological footprint of primary productions, since it made it possible not to convert wooded or natural areas into agricultural land, also guaranteeing lower greenhouse gas emissions. Without genetic improvement, Europe would have become a net importer of major agricultural crops in 2020, including wheat and cereals.

"The study shows the impact and benefits that plant innovation guarantees to agriculture", said Giuseppe Carli, president of Assosementi. "In the last two decades, genetic improvement has contributed to increasing productivity, safeguarding environmental sustainability, helping the sector to cope with population growth and climate change, and to meet consumer demands: in the light of these evidences, we ask Europe to review the current regulatory framework that today does not give us access to the new techniques implemented by science" . The study also shows that the reduction in agricultural production expected from the full implementation of the Farm to Fork and biodiversity strategies could potentially be halved if genetic improvement continued at the current rate over the next decade.

“In recent days, the European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety has stated that NgTs can contribute to the sustainability of food systems. Plant innovation can therefore be a valuable tool in support of the two EU strategies to compensate for yield losses, but without aligning legislation that dates back 20 years ago, the seed sector will have to give up investing in research and will not be able to play an active role in identifying and selecting the best performing varieties”, concluded Carli.

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EFA News - European Food Agency