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A joint plant breeding programme to decrease the EU's and China's dependency on protein imports
Date de clôture : 13 sept. 2016  

 Pêche et alimentation
 Ressources génétiques
 Développement urbain
 Horizon Europe
 Sciences du climat

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Legume crops are a critical source of plant-based proteins for people and animals. To date, however, they have not featured high on public or private sector research agendas. The EU and China are facing similar challenges, as both lack sources of protein and are increasingly dependent on protein imports for food and animal feed. In recent years (mainly due to continuous population growth and urbanisation), China has imported increasing volumes of soybeans, reaching 60 million tonnes in 2013 (corresponding to 60% of world market trade). This unique situation for a commodity will have important consequences on the equilibrium of the global market and might affect prices in the near future if imports increase further, as indicated by most recent long-term projections. The EU and China therefore have a common interest in cooperating on long-term strategies to develop sustainable alternatives to protein imports with a view to reducing their dependency and helping to stabilise the world market.


Proposals will develop efficient long-term breeding strategies to improve diversification, crop productivity and stability, and the protein quality of (grain and forage) legume crops for human and animal food. Activities will seek to broaden the genetic base of legume crops for breeding purposes, analyse relevant and untapped genetic material and explore the scope for increased exchanges between the EU and China via mutual access to gene banks through open databases. Proposals will test plant performance (phenotyping) of a wide range of legume species and varieties in various geographic (climatic) and environmental situations in the EU and China, taking into account climate-change scenarios. Activities will identify species and varieties suited to a number of specific agro-ecological conditions: specific attention should be given to identifying resistance to combinations of biotic and abiotic stresses (including heat and drought stress tolerance). Proposals will make use of a wide range of breeding tools and methods available in the EU and China.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed properly. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Contributions for Chinese participants will come in addition and will be made available by China.

Expected Impact:
  • reduce overall long-term dependence of European and Chinese agricultural systems on protein imports;
  • enlarged range of genetic resources of legume crops available for use in breeding programmes;
  • enhanced common methods, tools and technologies for the characterisation and evaluation of new genetic resources;
  • improve mutual access to genetic resources;
  • new varieties adapted to local conditions in order to increase the overall productivity and quality of legume crops that should benefit both conventional and organic agriculture; and
  • new varieties adapted to biotic and abiotic stresses in the context of climate change.

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