The call for proposals for NRP 84 “Plant Breeding Innovation” is now open

© © Adobe Stock Photos, ‘Werachat’

Interested project teams can now submit their pre-proposals until 14 March 2024.

The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) is launching a call for the National Research Programme "Plant Breeding Innovation" (NRP 84) based on a mandate from the Federal Council.

Global warming, environmental degradation and our planet’s growing human population pose increasing threats to food security around the world. There is also increasing pressure to reduce the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers and to protect biodiversity while maintaining or increasing productivity. A broad spectrum of approaches will be needed to meet these demands, including the development of new plant trait combinations that confer greater resistance to pests and diseases or continued productivity in the face of drought, flooding or rising temperatures.

The programme aims to identify and test new plant breeding technologies (NBTs), which involve targeted mutagenesis, DNA editing and cisgenic insertion of DNA constructs that do not lead to transgenic products, and to evaluate their application from agronomic, social, ethics, economic and regulatory perspectives in Switzerland. NRP 84 consists of three research modules.

  • Module 1: Technical feasibility – will evaluate the use of NBTs to generate crop varieties with traits that improve crop productivity and quality and that permit environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural practices in Switzerland.
  • Module 2: Ethics, society, and economics – will examine ethical issues and factors that influence stakeholders’ attitudes and interests as well as the economic viability of the use of NBTs in agriculture.
  • Module 3: Regulatory considerations – will formulate policy recommendations for regulatory frameworks that promote innovation for sustainable applications of NBTs and serve to reduce biosafety and environmental risks.

NRP 84 will operate with overall funding of 10 million Swiss francs for a research duration of 5 years.

Projects will be selected in a two-stage process. Interested researchers are invited to submit a pre-proposal by 14 March 2024. Detailed information on the background and scope, the participation requirements and the submission and selection procedures are provided in the call document.