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Trends in Plant Science

Feasibility of new breeding techniques for organic farming

Martin Marchman Andersen, Xavier Landes1, Wen Xiang, Artem Anyshchenko, Janus Falhof, Jeppe Thulin Østerberg, Lene Irene Olsen, Anna Kristina Edenbrandt, Suzanne Elizabeth Vedel, Bo Jellesmark Thorsen, Peter Sandøe, Christian Gamborg, Klemens Kappel, Michael G. Palmgren

Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen, Karen Blixens Vej 4, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark.


Organic farming is based on the concept of working ‘with nature’ instead of against it; however, compared with conventional farming, organic farming reportedly has lower productivity. Ideally, the goal should be to narrow this yield gap. In this review, we specifically discuss the feasibility of new breeding techniques (NBTs) for rewilding, a process involving the reintroduction of properties from the wild relatives of crops, as a method to close the productivity gap. The most efficient methods of rewilding are based on modern biotechnology techniques, which have yet to be embraced by the organic farming movement. Thus, the question arises of whether the adoption of such methods is feasible, not only from a technological perspective, but also from conceptual, socioeconomic, ethical, and regulatory perspectives.

Keywords: rewilding; reverse breeding; organic agriculture; TALEN; CRISPR-Cas9; cisgenesis.

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