The economic, social and environmental value of plant breeding in the European Union

This study aims at providing science-based but well-understandable quantitative and qualitative information on the numerous benefits plant breeding is offering to societies. More particularly, this research is meant to make the socio-economic and environmental value of plant breeding in the EU and for a rather broad variety of crops quantifiable and, thus, apparent.

Since 2000 EU plant breeding has largely improved global food supply - enough to additionally feed 160 million people with kcal. Thanks to innovation in plant breeding over the last 15 years the EU’s wheat harvests have grown by more than 22 million tons, which is enough for 64 loaves of bread for every person in EU. Additionally, it allowed EU farmers to grow an extra 10 million tons of potatoes every year, which is more than the annual potato output of the whole of Poland. Without the last 15 years of plant breeding, prices at international agricultural commodity markets would have been 3 to 10 % higher they are at present and the EU would have become a net importer in all major arable crops, including those that are currently exported – potatoes, wheat and other cereals.

In the future, European plant scientists and farmers hope to achieve even more, increasing the harvest of main crops by 76 million tons using plant breeding by 2030.