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Opinion

Designing the Crops for the Future; The CropBooster Program

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Laboratory of Biophysics, Department of Agrotechnology and Food Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, 6700 HB Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK
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Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK
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Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire & Végétale, University Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, INRAE, CEA, 38 000 Grenoble, France
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Department of Biology, Agriculture and Food Sciences, National Research Council (CNR), 00185 Rome, Italy
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Department of Biology, University of Naples Federico II, 80138 Naples, Italy
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Institute for Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology, Julius Kühn-Institut, 06484 Quedlinburg, Germany
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European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO), 1000 Brussels, Belgium
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Wageningen Plant Research, Wageningen University & Research, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Pierre Devaux and Pierre Sourdille
Biology 2021, 10(7), 690; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology10070690
Received: 29 June 2021 / Revised: 16 July 2021 / Accepted: 17 July 2021 / Published: 20 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Crop Improvement Now and Beyond)
Our climate is changing and the world population is growing to an estimated 10 billion people by 2050. This may cause serious problems in global food supply, protection of the environment and safeguarding Earth’s biodiversity. To face these challenges, agriculture will have to adapt and a key element in this will be the development of “future-proof” crops. These crops will not only have to be high-yielding, but also should be able to withstand future climate conditions and will have to make very efficient use of scarce resources such as water, phosphorus and minerals. Future crops should not only sustainably give access to sufficient, nutritious, and diverse food to a worldwide growing population, but also support the circular bio-based economy and contribute to a lower atmospheric CO2 concentration to counteract global warming. Future-proofing our crops is an urgent issue and a challenging goal that only can be realized by large-scale, international research cooperation. We call for international action and propose a pan-European research and innovation initiative, the CropBooster Program, to mobilize the European plant research community and all interested actors in agri-food research and innovation to face the challenge.
The realization of the full objectives of international policies targeting global food security and climate change mitigation, including the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement COP21 and the European Green Deal, requires that we (i) sustainably increase the yield, nutritional quality and biodiversity of major crop species, (ii) select climate-ready crops that are adapted to future weather dynamic and (iii) increase the resource use efficiency of crops for sustainably preserving natural resources. Ultimately, the grand challenge to be met by agriculture is to sustainably provide access to sufficient, nutritious and diverse food to a worldwide growing population, and to support the circular bio-based economy. Future-proofing our crops is an urgent issue and a challenging goal, involving a diversity of crop species in differing agricultural regimes and under multiple environmental drivers, providing versatile crop-breeding solutions within wider socio-economic-ecological systems. This goal can only be realized by a large-scale, international research cooperation. We call for international action and propose a pan-European research initiative, the CropBooster Program, to mobilize the European plant research community and interconnect it with the interdisciplinary expertise necessary to face the challenge. View Full-Text
Keywords: food supply; climate change; crop yield; sustainability; resource use efficiency; photosynthesis; biodiversity; CO2; bioeconomy; breeding food supply; climate change; crop yield; sustainability; resource use efficiency; photosynthesis; biodiversity; CO2; bioeconomy; breeding
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MDPI and ACS Style

Harbinson, J.; Parry, M.A.J.; Davies, J.; Rolland, N.; Loreto, F.; Wilhelm, R.; Metzlaff, K.; Klein Lankhorst, R. Designing the Crops for the Future; The CropBooster Program. Biology 2021, 10, 690. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology10070690

AMA Style

Harbinson J, Parry MAJ, Davies J, Rolland N, Loreto F, Wilhelm R, Metzlaff K, Klein Lankhorst R. Designing the Crops for the Future; The CropBooster Program. Biology. 2021; 10(7):690. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology10070690

Chicago/Turabian Style

Harbinson, Jeremy, Martin A.J. Parry, Jess Davies, Norbert Rolland, Francesco Loreto, Ralf Wilhelm, Karin Metzlaff, and René Klein Lankhorst. 2021. "Designing the Crops for the Future; The CropBooster Program" Biology 10, no. 7: 690. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology10070690

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