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Paving the way towards future-proofing our crops

Baekelandt, Alexandra; Saltenis, Vandasue L.R.; Nacry, Philippe; Malyska, Aleksandra; Cornelissen, Marc; Nanda, Amrit Kaur; Nair, Abhishek; Rogowsky, Peter; Pauwels, Laurens; Muller, Bertrand; Collén, Jonas; Blomme, Jonas; Pribil, Mathias; Scharff, Lars B.; Davies, Jessica; Wilhelm, Ralf; Rolland, Norbert; Harbinson, Jeremy; Boerjan, Wout; Murchie, Erik H.; Burgess, Alexandra J.; Cohan, Jean Pierre; Debaeke, Philippe; Thomine, Sébastien; Inzé, Dirk; Lankhorst, René Klein; Parry, Martin A.J.

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Alexandra Baekelandt

Vandasue L.R. Saltenis

Philippe Nacry

Aleksandra Malyska

Marc Cornelissen

Amrit Kaur Nanda

Abhishek Nair

Peter Rogowsky

Laurens Pauwels

Bertrand Muller

Jonas Collén

Jonas Blomme

Mathias Pribil

Lars B. Scharff

Jessica Davies

Ralf Wilhelm

Norbert Rolland

Jeremy Harbinson

Wout Boerjan

Professor of Applied Plant Physiology

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Assistant Professor in Agriculture and The Environment

Jean Pierre Cohan

Philippe Debaeke

Sébastien Thomine

Dirk Inzé

René Klein Lankhorst

Martin A.J. Parry


To meet the increasing global demand for food, feed, fibre and other plant-derived products, a steep increase in crop productivity is a scientifically and technically challenging imperative. The CropBooster-P project, a response to the H2020 call ‘Future proofing our plants’, is developing a roadmap for plant research to improve crops critical for the future of European agriculture by increasing crop yield, nutritional quality, value for non-food applications and sustainability. However, if we want to efficiently improve crop production in Europe and prioritize methods for crop trait improvement in the coming years, we need to take into account future socio-economic, technological and global developments, including numerous policy and socio-economic challenges and constraints. Based on a wide range of possible global trends and key uncertainties, we developed four extreme future learning scenarios that depict complementary future developments. Here, we elaborate on how the scenarios could inform and direct future plant research, and we aim to highlight the crop improvement approaches that could be the most promising or appropriate within each of these four future world scenarios. Moreover, we discuss some key plant technology options that would need to be developed further to meet the needs of multiple future learning scenarios, such as improving methods for breeding and genetic engineering. In addition, other diverse platforms of food production may offer unrealized potential, such as underutilized terrestrial and aquatic species as alternative sources of nutrition and biomass production. We demonstrate that although several methods or traits could facilitate a more efficient crop production system in some of the scenarios, others may offer great potential in all four of the future learning scenarios. Altogether, this indicates that depending on which future we are heading toward, distinct plant research fields should be given priority if we are to meet our food, feed and non-food biomass production needs in the coming decades.


Baekelandt, A., Saltenis, V. L., Nacry, P., Malyska, A., Cornelissen, M., Nanda, A. K., …Parry, M. A. (2023). Paving the way towards future-proofing our crops. Food and Energy Security, 12(3), Article e441.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 30, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 3, 2023
Publication Date 2023-05
Deposit Date Feb 23, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Journal Food and Energy Security
Electronic ISSN 2048-3694
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 3
Article Number e441
Keywords Crop productivity, crop yield, future‐proofed crops, future world scenarios, plant research
Public URL
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