GENET archive


2-Plants: EU funds biotech legume research

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  EU funds Integrated Project for the promotion of vegetables
SOURCE: European Communities / John Innes Centre, UK
DATE:   8 Jul 2004

------------------- archive: -------------------

EU funds Integrated Project for the promotion of vegetables

Ever since BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) revealed the danger of
using animal derived protein to feed livestock, the EU has wanted to
encourage farmers to grow protein-rich legume crops for animals.

Indeed, grain legume crops such as peas, beans, field beans, chickpeas,
lupins and lentils are currently underused by European farmers, despite
having the advantage of reducing fertiliser and pesticide inputs. At
present, Europe imports 70 per cent of its plant-derived protein, mostly
as soya.

For this reason, the European Commission is providing funding under the
'Food quality and safety' thematic priority of the Sixth Framework
Programme (FP6) to a extensive new Integrated Project called Grain
Legumes ('New strategies to improve grain legumes for food and feed') for
the promotion of plants as an attractive alternative source of protein
for both livestock and humans.

Scientists from 17 European countries and Australia will use the latest
genetic technologies to develop new varieties of legume, as well as
finding new ways of growing, treating, processing and using them.

'The strategy,' explained Dr Noel Ellis, the project coordinator from the
John Innes Centre in the UK, 'is to accelerate plant breeding by using
genetic testing techniques that can be applied equally to marker-assisted
breeding or for the development of transgenic crops in response to the
demands of users and consumers'.

Currently, grain legumes, although better for the environment, are
underused by European farmers, mainly due to yield inconsistency and a
lack of relevant research into the effects of legume seed composition on
the quality of animal feed. The project will, therefore, develop two
complimentary approaches to realise the potential benefit of grain legume
use in European feed. The first one is to improve the quality of legume
seeds as a source of feed and the second is to stabilise the crop yields
for legumes to encourage increased use by farmers.

The objectives of Grain Legumes are fourfold, explained Dr Ellis, 'to
define the impact and potential of improved grain legumes on animal feed;
to understand the factors affecting grain legume seed quality and use; to
develop the genomics and post-genomic tools needed to improve and sustain
grain legume seed quality and supply; and to coordinate and integrate
grain legume research, provide training in emerging technological
approaches, and disseminate the results and transfer technology to industry.'

The project will also develop links with other programmes on legume
genomics to avoid duplication of effort, and an interactive technology
transfer platform will be created to keep European plant breeding, food
and animal feed companies informed of the results.

'The eventual outcome should be legume crops that are more attractive to
European farmers so that, in future, Europe's citizens and animals can
look forward to eating more locally grown pulses,' concluded Dr Ellis.

For more information on the project, please visit: http://

Category: Programme implementation
Data Source Provider: John Innes Centre
Document Reference: Based on information from the John Innes Centre
Programme or Service Acronym: FRAMEWORK 6C; FP6-INTEGRATING; FP6-FOOD
Subject Index : Medicine, Health; Biotechnology; Life Sciences;
Agriculture; Food

 RCN: 22301


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(*)
W: <>

   GENET-news mailing list