14 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM O ne of the new EU Research and Innovation projects is BRESOV (Breeding for Resilient, Efficient and Sustainable Organic Vegetable production), which aims to tackle the nutritional challenges of a growing world population and changing climatic conditions by enhancing productivity of different vegetable crops in an organic and sustainable farming infra- structure. On page 10 in this issue you can read the contribution of the BRESOV project coordina- tor, Prof. Branca. The project involves 22 partner institutions from 10 European countries as well as China, Tunisia and South Korea, and is charac- terised by a multi-actor approach placing special emphasis on the input and needs of the breeding and farming sector. Among the partners, the seed sector will be represented by the European Seed Association (ESA), and with ESA’s Christophe Rouillard serving as the main contact. “The European Seed Association (ESA) is proud to represent companies active in research, breeding, production and marketing of seeds of agri- cultural, horticultural and ornamental plant species – including for the organic sector,” says Rouillard. ESA members are at the cutting edge of organic seed production, working to develop solu- tions for the farmers and benefits for the society as a whole. This is done through field trials - demon- stration fields, seed production and processing facilities, seed cleaning technologies, and specific packaging facilities - all to cater for the growing organic market. The vision of BRESOV is to explore the genetic diversity of broccoli, snap bean and tomato and to improve the competitiveness of these three crops in an organic and sustainable environment. The overall aim is to increase the plants’ tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses and to the specific requirements of organic and low-input production processes. Therefore, it is important for the ESA to actively take part in the BRESOV Project. Only three crops were chosen for this project: broccoli, bean and tomato. Rouillard says broccoli, bean and tomato are economically three of the most significant vegetable crops, also important in the organic sector. They were chosen to serve as a model for the enhancement of other crops. ORGANIC BREEDING VERSUS CONVENTIONAL BREEDING Breeding and seed producing companies, mem- bers of the ESA, have been adaptive in meeting the growing and changing demand in the organic sector – including the switch from using untreated conventional seed to producing certified organic seed. Working to ensure that organic farmers have sufficient seed drives their investment decisions. A revised regulation for the European Union on organic production and labelling of organic prod- ucts shall apply from 1 January 2021. This new regulation will establish a temporary experiment seeking to establish conditions for the development of “organic varieties suitable for organic produc- tion”, driven by demands from some organizations to foster and develop ‘exclusively organic breeding programmes’. “ESA members believe that current breeding programmes are the most effective in meeting the precise needs of the organic sector,” says Rouillard. “Starting with as wide a genepool as possible (i.e. conventional breeding programme) allows for the possibility to select the best lines or varieties for organic growers; from here the choice and quality of varieties will be at its highest.” Existing programmes also allow for ‘fast inno- vations’ in the case of breakthroughs for certain disease resistances; it would be shame to deny the organic sector such breakthroughs made in con- ventional breeding programmes. “Lastly, exclusively organic breeding pro- grammes would, based on the size of the sector, be much smaller, thus more expensive, riskier (exposure of bred lines to diseases, pests, etc.) and consequently lengthier; such an approach is contrary to the urgent needs of growers – espe- cially organic growers – to meet future agricultural challenges such as climate change and emerging pests and diseases.” WHY IT MATTERS The BRESOV project seeks to provide climate-resilient cultivars addressed to organic vegetable production systems. These new cultivars will benefit organic growers, and the organic seed industry, both under current and future scenarios of climate change. The genetic variation of broccoli, kohlrabi, bean and tomato will be assessed for enhanced productivity, by exploiting up-to- date knowledge of genome structure and function. The seed industry is represented by ESA. THE SEED INDUSTRY VIEW ON THE BRESOV PROJECT. BY: MARCEL BRUINS PROVIDING CLIMATE-RESILIENT CULTIVARS FOR ORGANIC VEGETABLE PRODUCTION SYSTEMS