Lab equipment. © INRA, William Beaucardet

Green biotechnologies: paving new paths for agriculture

Green biotechnologies are opening up new avenues for agriculture and for rising to the double challenge of ensuring food and energy production while preserving the environment. Biotechnologies can contribute significantly to improving crops and to the production of biomaterials and biofuels.

Innovation in biotechnologies depends on our knowledge of plants and their genomes. That is why heavy investments have been made in genomics, to sequence genes and understand their functions. In laboratories, molecular technologies such as molecular markers, mapping, cloning, genetic sequencing, transgenesis, etc. are being used on a daily basis.

 An established scientific priority at INRA

The scientific policy on plant biotechnologies adopted by the Board of Directors of 27 June 2007 attests to INRA’s investment in all aspects of this field of research. The Institute is also committed to developing innovations for the benefit of the greater community, to studying their impact, and acquiring resources that are available to the public:  the constitution of genetic resources, technological platforms and patent policies that discourage monopolies.

The means to match the stakes 

INRA coordinates the Scientific Interest Group “Green Biotechnologies”, which replaced “Genoplante” in 2011, with a professional partnership broadened to include private economic operators adhering to the principle of Plant Variety Rights (PVR) as a means of protecting breeders’ intellectual property rights.
Moreover, the Institute met with a high success rate in green biotechnologies during the two phases of the Stimulus Initiative projects, the other two of the tender being white, or industrial biotechnologies and the environment (see part 7 of this report).

A little history

Major discoveries attest to major skill sets

-       2011: mechanism of clonal reproduction by seed, a world first

-       2007: identification of an enzyme allowing detection of mutations in a given gene, thanks to the Tilling method (Targeting Induced Local Lesions in Genomes)

-       1994: INRA and Serasem create Synergy, the first variety of hybrid rapeseed, and obtain a French patent. The Male Cytoplasmic Sterility technology (CMS)

-       1960: first in vitro propagation of orchids

-       1952: eradication of dahlia viruses through meristem culture