Kris Peeters, the Minister-President of Flanders, this morning visited the world's number 1 plant biotechnology research centre - the VIB Plant System Biology Department of the University of Ghent. He came out in support of the application of biotechnology for competitive and sustainable agriculture.
Kris Peeters: “It has now become clear that investment made by the Flemish government in top-flight science has been worthwhile. Burning ambition, focus, creativity and far-reaching internationalisation has resulted in Flemish plant biotechnical research being where it is today. It is this type of scientific research that forms one of the most important pillars in our knowledge-based economy. Flanders is a knowledge region and we must take full advantage of this.”
Kris Peeters also practised what he preached by turning his hand to laboratory work. After a brief demonstration, he made a genetically-modified Arabidopsis plant. Arabidopsis (mouse-ear cress in English) is the “laboratory mouse” of plant biotechnical research. While researching these plants, the molecular mechanisms are exposed that are the basis of plant growth and development. The knowledge gained can then be applied in various ways - in traditional plant breeding, in optimising crop management and also in the targeted adaptation of crops using genetic modification.
Kris Peeters: “Flemish agriculture must have access to all possible means to remain competitive and to continue to be sustainable. We should therefore not exclude anything including biotechnical applications.”