Plant genetic resources such as those in the UK Vegetable Genebank are a source of the traits required for the new varieties of crops needed for sustainable production methods.
Varieties which have better levels of pest and disease resistance and which are resilient to environmental stresses such as heat, cold and drought will perform better and require fewer inputs such as water and fertlizers.
Genetic Improvement Networks (supported by Defra) were set up to facilitate the transfer of useful genetic variation from collections of plant genetic resources into new varieties. They are networks of researchers and stakeholders from the food supply chain, and have been successful at identifying target traits and resources to develop.
The UK Vegetable Genebank has supplied material to two networks which has become part of the core resources developed for each, and is an active research partner in work on vegetable crops.