Smart Breeding

Marker-Assisted Selection: A non-invasive biotechnology alternative to genetic engineering of plant varieties

Publication - November 13, 2009
Marker-assisted selection is a modern plant breeding technique that can offer benefits to farmers developing climate or diseases resistant varieties, without the need for genetic engineering.

While genetically-engineered plants have gained much public attention, another modern breeding technique called MAS (marker-assisted selection) has gone through a silent revolution in recent years. MAS is a technique that does not replace traditional breeding, but can help to make it more efficient. It does not include the transfer of isolated gene sequences such as genetic engineering, but offers tools for targeted selection of the existing plant material for further breeding. MAS has already proven to be a valuable tool for plant breeders: it requires less investment, raises fewer safety concerns, respects species barriers, and is accepted by the public. This report highlights dozens of examples of already marketed MAS-bred varieties, demonstrating its high potential to meet challenges such as a changing climate, disease resistance or higher nutritional qualities.