Many types of fruit and vegetables are threatened or have already died out. Organic breeding wants to counteract this and is committed to a return of diversity on the vegetable shelf. A success story: The new Rasmus broccoli variety, because it is one of the few organic broccoli varieties on the market.
Do broccoli all look the same? Not so Rasmus. This fascinates again and again. Its color and shape can vary: no Rasmus is like another. This is due to the fact that Rasmus is not a so-called hybrid, but a reproducible variety from organic breeding. And it is precisely these varieties that need to be saved. Otherwise we will soon have no more variety on the plate. The variety of our vegetables had to give way to industrialized agriculture long ago. Only what is bred is bred that yields a lot. So-called F1 and CMS hybrids with uniform appearance deliver high yields with consistent quality. Few varieties grow in ever larger fields. This no longer has anything to do with the original variety of fruit and vegetables.
75 percent of the variety is already lost forever
According to the World Food Organization FAO, around 75 percent of the variety of varieties still available in 1900 has been irretrievably lost in the last 100 years. In Germany and Europe, hybrid varieties have a market share of over 90 percent for many types of fruit and vegetables – for example corn, sugar beet, tomatoes, onions and various types of cabbage. Hybrids are created by using as different parent lines as possible. By repeatedly using certain properties such as size, shape, color or resistance as benchmarks for crossbreeding over the years, high-performance plants grow under the influence of chemical-synthetic pesticides with high yields. However, the positive properties only apply to the first sowing, usually the yield drops significantly in the next generation. This means that hybrid plants cannot be “reproduced” and form a genetic dead end. For farmers, this means an immense dependency on large agricultural corporations, from which they have to buy seeds again and again year after year. There are hardly any varieties that you can propagate yourself.
Organic breeding offers answers to climate change
Organic breeding aims to restore the variety of varieties. It also helps to find adaptable varieties that can best cope with different site conditions and climate change. No genetic engineering, chemical-synthetic pesticides or artificial mineral fertilizers are used in organic agriculture. Plants like Rasmus broccoli have to be able to defend themselves against parasites, diseases or competing weeds. With more pronounced foliage that covers the ground, it can, for example, prevail against sprouting weeds by taking away the light of the other plants. In conventional agriculture, weeds can only be controlled with herbicides. In addition to its excellent taste, Rasmus is particularly easy to digest and its high nutritional quality. The stalk should definitely be on the plate, because it is mildly aromatic and full of good nutrients.