The food security : a challenge for the planet
Taking into account population growth, urbanization, climate change, and the limitation of natural resources, half a century after the “green revolution”, global food security is more than ever a strategic challenge for the world. There is a need for higher stability of yield to ensure a global food security and repartition.
Limiting the pollution
In addition, there is a growing demand for improving the quality of plant biomass for energy, green chemistry or human welfare and health and lowering the price of plant products. The need to cut CO2 emissions to avoid climate changes has made the transition from conventional fossil fuels to alternative and renewable resources a priority. Unfortunately, current agriculture as well as urbanization and industry impact the environment by polluting and/or overexploiting limited fossil resources, water, and arable lands.
Toward a “sustainable intensification”
Therefore, there is an urgent and ever growing international need for developing a “sustainable intensification” of agriculture limiting the impact on the environment (using lower inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides) but providing sufficient and stable production. Clearly, achieving this goal requires intensive research and development that integrates current practices in diverse agricultural systems with rapidly advancing research in biology. It is therefore a strategic aim to strengthen the research and innovation capacities in the potential breakthrough technologies that will shape crop improvement ant the development of agriculture in the future. We need to develop efficient tools and sufficient knowledge to reach this goal.
Understanding basic genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms
A better understanding of the processes underlying plant development and physiology would not only contribute to the optimization of crop yield and quality but also could contribute to a better adaptation of cultures to abiotic and biotic stresses, and reduce negative environmental impact. More specifically, a better understanding of the genes that influence plant development allows complex agronomic traits to be decomposed, which facilitates breeding programs.
Innovating in the fields of agriculture, nutrition, health and biotechnology
Many innovations, some of which involve genetically modified crops, would allow a higher and sustainable yield of grains (the basis of world diet) or biomass as well, and new prospects for the quality of the products for green chemistry, nutrition and health, with lower inputs of water or fertilizer than in current agriculture. In this context, plant biology, genetics and green biotechnology can provide important knowledge and new tools for improving relevant crops and crop systems more efficiently than ever before. They should allow to rationally adapt plants and practices in a rapid and targeted manner. Nevertheless, it is important to note that whatever the biotechnology is (marker assisted breeding or genetic engineering), its efficiency will depend on our knowledge of biological processes and their predictive value.