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8 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM new study on the socio-economic value of plant breeding in the European Union clearly shows the breeding sector has a strong positive impact on growth and employment as well as on environmental protection and biodiversity preservation. According to study author Steffen Noleppa plant breeding activities in the EU in the last 15 years resulted in numerous clearly measurable benefits for the economy the environment and also society at large. The results of this study should help better inform and facilitate an unbiased public debate on the importance of historic current and future genetic crop improvements for specific socio-economic and environmental objectives says Noleppa managing director of HFFA Research GmbH in Berlin. The study titled The economic social and environmental value of plant breeding in the European Union provides information that follows up on and supports a European Parliament report from 2014 which said the EU should play a leading role in the development of sustainable plant breeding techniques and in promoting agricultural and plant breeding research and practice. The study provides a number of key findings that represent science-based evidence showing the numerous benefits plant breeding is offering to European society and makes clear the socioeconomic and environmental value of plant breeding in the EU. Productivity Growth On average and across major crops cultivated in the EU plant breeding contributes about 74 per cent to total productivity growth since the turn of the millennium equal to an increase in yields by 1.24 per cent per annum. Considering academic literature and the obviously broad consensus in science it becomes apparent that plant breeding across all arable crops in the EU has a tremendous impact on productivity in arable farming Noleppa says. In the second half of the last century genetic improvements were responsible for half the progress made. Since the turn of the millennium this ratio has increased considerably. Based on this productivity growth on average yields and resulting production of arable crops in the EU would be more than 16 percent lower without genetic crop improvements according to the study. Stabilising Markets Plant breeding has increased primary agricultural product supply by a significant amount thus stabilising markets and reducing price volatility according to the study results. Higher yields per unit of arable land increase the EUs supply of primary agricultural products to international markets Noleppa notes. Because of plant breeding an additional 47 million tons of grains and seven million tons of oilseeds are currently produced in the EU he says. This contributes to not only stabilising VITAL TO THE ECONOMY ENVIRONMENT PLANT BREEDING By Marc Zienkiewicz A new study makes clear how important plant breeding is to the European Union. Study author Steffen Noleppa