argylesock says… Here’s evidence that new crop varieties introduced to the Netherlands keep being able to produce more, year after year. But the ‘yield gap between the potential and actual yield is growing.’ As you know, the Netherlands is in Europe so this science is about conventionally (selectively) bred crops. European farmers aren’t permitted to grow genetically modified (GM, genetically engineered, GE) crops except one maize variety and one potato variety. That maize is MON810. It was engineered to resist insect pests but it isn’t grown in the Netherlands. That potato is Amflora. It was engineered to make a type of starch useful in paper and yarn but it isn’t grown anywhere. With conventionally bred crops, it seems that potential yields continue to increase. So much for any alleged need for GM in Europe! Our farmers have wonderful new crop varietes, bred selectively, but here’s the rub. Actual yields don’t increase so much, or at all.
New varieties continue to yield more than their predecessors, according to research into varieties of winter wheat, spring barley, potatoes grown for starch and sugar beet which have been introduced in the Netherlands by plant breeding companies between 1980 and 2010.
Contrary to recent concerns that important crops in high-yielding regions have reached their production maximum, the research at Wageningen University shows plant breeding can still lead to increases in production.
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