Rethinking Land in the Anthropocene: Strategies for Securing the Future and the Role of New Plant Breeding Methods

Virtual Disussion

Ort / Datum
Online, 27.05.2021


German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungpolitik (DIE), Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research

The latest WBGU (German Advisory Council on Global Change) flagship report diagnoses a "trilemma" of global land use, consisting of diverse demands made on land for the purposes of climate-change mitigation, food security and the conservation of biological diversity. The Council proposes five governance strategies to address this trilemma: These range from increased support for pioneers of sustainable land use, to the further development of European agricultural policy into a Common Ecosystem Policy, to new approaches to regional and international cooperation.

In a statement to the flagship report, several scientific associations of agricultural sciences acknowledge the problem analysis of the WBGU report but regret that the potential and recognized opportunities of plant research including new breeding methods are hardly mentioned. It is criticized that new methods such as genome editing with CRISPR are deliberately not dealt with, with reference to "sustainability risks" that are not further described. This is not only contrary to the potential of biotechnological methods as mentioned in IPCC reports, but also contradicts science-based risk assessments of the application of genome editing. The German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungpolitik (DIE) and the Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research want to make the key messages of the WBGU report accessible to a broad expert public and contribute to a science-based debate on the role of new methods of plant breeding. We have been able to abstract three proven experts to this online event:


  • Markus Fischer will present the core messages of the WBGU report, i.e. the analysis of the "land use trilemma" and the five strategies proposed by the Council to overcome it.
  • Gabriel Schaaf will give an overview of important new developments in plant sciences.
  • Martin Qaim will discuss the potential of new plant breeding technologies for food security in the Global South.



Welcome notes

  • Anna Katharina Hornidge, Director of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
  • Jakob Rhyner, Scientific Director of the Bonn Alliance for Sustainabiliy Research, University of Bonn


Rethinking Land in the Anthropocene: from Separation to Integration – Core messages of the WBGU Flagship Report

  • Markus Fischer, Professor of Plant Ecology at the Institute of Plant Sciences and Director of the Botanical Garden at the University of Bern. Member of the WBGU since April 2020.


New Technologies in Plant Breeding: Chances for Sustainable Agriculture

  • Gabriel Schaaf, Professor of Ecophysiology of Plant Nutrition at the Institute for Crop Sciences and Resource Conservation (INRES), University of Bonn, Co-initiator of the "statement” of plant scientists to the WBGU report.

Potential of New Plant Breeding Technologies for Food Security in the Global South

  • Matin Qaim, Professor of International Food Economics and Rural Development at the University of Göttingen


Q&A and open discussion

Closing remarks: Core lessons from the event and future research questions

  • Michael Brüntrup, Senior Researcher at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)



  • Rita Strohmaier, Researcher at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)


All three speakers will answer questions from the audience and will be available for discussion.


Während unserer Veranstaltungen werden z.T. Foto- und/oder Filmaufnahmen gemacht, die für Zwecke der Veranstaltungsberichterstattung und allgemeinen Öffentlichkeitsarbeit in verschiedenen Medien veröffentlicht werden. Sie haben jederzeit das Recht, die Foto- oder Videograf*innen darauf hinzuweisen, dass Sie nicht aufgenommen werden möchten.


Datum / Uhrzeit

27.05.2021 / 16:00 - 18:00




Send a brief email that you are interested in participating to You will then receive the zoom link and passcode for this event. Participants can join the zoom meeting at 15.45.

Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research