Cereal crops are important staple food and important economic commodities globally. Global production stands at 765m tonnes per year, with 15m tonnes grown in the UK
In the last 20 years, wheat yields have stabilised in many parts of the world, despite the widespread use of fertilisers. Global crop losses to pests and diseases also remain high; for example, worldwide losses due to rust are estimated to be about $5bn. Moreover, the challenge of climate change means that cereal crops need to become more resilient to changing environmental conditions. As a result of these pressures, farmers increasingly need new, resilient cereals, but plant breeding for cereal crops is a lengthy, often difficult process.
This Ceres project is scaling up production of non-GM resilient cereals with desirable characteristics such as increased yield and pest and disease resistance. This technology has potential wider societal and environmental benefits by increasing yields to help feed the world’s growing population, while reducing crop losses and food waste as well as reducing reliance on agrichemicals like fertilisers.