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Challenges for Agricultural Research

image of Challenges for Agricultural Research

As the world has changed during the past 50 years, so has agriculture. And so has agricultural research, which continues to confront new challenges, from food security to ecological concerns to land use issues. Indeed, as Guy Paillotin, the former president of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) has noted, agricultural research “has reached new heights in biology and is exploring other disciplines. It is forever changing, as are the needs of the society”.

The changing challenges faced by agricultural research were examined in depth at a conference organised by the OECD’s Co-operative Research Programme on Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, together with the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Agriculture. Participants came from all agricultural sectors and included farmers, industry, scientists and decision makers, as well as other stake holders.

This publication presents the twenty papers delivered at the conference. They highlight recent major progress in agricultural research outcomes and address the challenges that lie ahead.

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The Role of Genetically Modified Plants in Sustainable Crop Protection

Potential yield loss (i.e. production without crop protection) of major crops is estimated at 50% to 80% worldwide, whereas actual yield loss (i.e. loss despite crop protection) ranges from 25% to 40% on average of crops. These figures show that crop protection plays a crucial role in safeguarding crop productivity against competition from pests (weeds, animals, pathogens and viruses) and in preventing pre- and post-harvest loss of food, feed and fibres. Sustainable crop protection should utilise all suitable techniques and methods which are compatible with economic, ecological and social requirements. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is considered to fulfil the conditions of sustainability, and IPM is thus a strategy that can contribute most efficiently to food security. IPM is one of the most effective strategies to contribute to crop productivity per harvested area which reflects in sustainable production systems the desire to increase land use efficiency and income by minimising adverse environmental and social impacts.

English

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