Agriculture & Food Systems Institute Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Andrew Roberts, delivered a presentation on the Crop Composition Database (CCDB) at the EuropaBio Workshop: The Agronomic and Phenotypic Assessment of Plant Varieties.

Plant breeding is a complex process through which plant varieties are constantly developed and brought to the market every year to improve yield and agronomic performances over existing varieties. During the development of new plant varieties, breeders apply a wide range of well-established methodologies to assess, select, and identify the best varieties to be commercialized.

In the European Union, there are official systems, which were developed decades ago, prescribing the assessment of these new varieties before their commercialization. In addition to meeting the standards on Distinctness, Uniformity, and Stability (DUS), for many crops, a new plant variety must demonstrate its value based on yield performance, resistance to harmful organisms, response to the environment, and quality characteristics as prescribed by the plant variety registration and protection authorities.

The agronomic and phenotypic characterization of genetically modified (GM) plants is one part of the comparative analysis developed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). How agronomic and phenotypic data should be taken from field trials to support the risk assessment of GM plants requires a sound response based on existing knowledge.

The objective of this workshop was to present the approach for the official assessment of plant varieties and to discuss how a similar approach is taken with regard to the risk assessment of GM plants. In addition, since it is part of the EFSA comparative assessment, more information about the availability of data on plant composition was provided.

Participants were from public research, national competent authorities, EFSA, and representatives of the plant breeding industry.

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