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Book chapter - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Domestication of Lepidium campestre as part of Mistra Biotech, a research programme focused on agro biotechnology for sustainable food

Dida, Mulatu Geleta; Zhu, Li-Hua; Stymne, Sten; Lehrman, Anna; Hansson, Sven Ove
Geleta, Mulatu Dida (ed.)


Several important challenges are facing agriculture . In the stride towards lowering the negative environmental impact of food production while maint aining and increasing the production, both basic farming practices and novel technologies are important tools. The use of biotechnology in breeding, however, is not uncontroversial. The crit icism has many angles and often relates to the applications brought forward by large, multinationa l companies, and farmers growing dependence on these companies when it comes to seeds. Question s are being raised about ethical acceptability, and about the health and environmental impacts. A g eneral aversion to what is often referred to as the “industrialization” of agriculture, and t o “unnaturalness”, also emerges in the debate. In the research programme referred to as Mistra Biotech , we include both philosophy and natural and social sciences. The overall goal is to facilitate production systems that are sustainable from ecological, social and economic perspectives. The objectives of the programme include developing: * new elite plant lines that have benefits for consumers, farmers, the food industry and the environment; * agribiotechnology tools that are important for achieving new product qualities, healthier crops and livestock, and for solving environmental problems in agriculture; * basis for sustainable production systems that contribute to increased competitiveness in Swedish agriculture and food production; * tools for ethical scrutiny of agricultural biotechnology that combine high demands on safety with encouragement of innovations; * basis for improved regulatory approaches and private-public relationships. The programme includes six component projects, in which domestication of a new biennial oilseed crop Lepidium campestre (field cress) is a major research focus. Questions we will try to answer within this programme include: Can biotechnology be used to improve crops which mitigate climate change or benefit the environment? What potential is there to commercialize such a crop? How would the consumers react to products made from it? Can breeding technology be improved further? Why does the market for genetically improved plant and animal materials look the way it does? What ethical concerns does the use of biotechnology raise? And how do all these issues feed into future agricultural systems? The results are integrated in the synthesis project called the Centre for Agriculture and Food Systems Analysis and Synthesis (AgriSA). Here we emphasise the research within Component Project1, with a focus on the domestication of field cress.

Published in

Book title: Perennial Crops for Food Security Proceedings of the FAO Expert Workshop
ISBN: 978-92-5-107998-0 (print); 978-92-5-107999-7 (E-ISBN)
Publisher: FAO