The plant science industry is dedicated to creating new and improved varieties of crops and crop protection tools for the benefit of all Canadians.

Innovations in food production

Innovation in food isn’t something new. In fact, humans have been working to improve food for thousands of years. For example, the bananas we enjoy today are very different from the bananas that originally occurred in nature. In their original form bananas were about 10 per cent edible because of their tough skins and seed-filled interiors, but through breeding over thousands of years humans were able to create the delicious banana we now get to enjoy.

Innovations in modern agriculture have brought us improved varieties of seeds and more targeted and effective pest control tools that help farmers sustainably grow safe, healthy and affordable food. So what food innovations are next on the horizon? Scientists are currently working to…

Strengthen the human health and disease-fighting properties of foods by:

  • Breeding tomatoes rich in the powerful antioxidant lycopene, or with higher levels of folic acid
  • Developing corn and soybeans with increased vitamin C and E

Make healthier, safer foods more available by:

  • Reducing or removing allergen proteins from peanuts and soybeans
  • Developing vitamin-infused crops for countries with widespread malnutrition
  • Lowering levels of trans-fats or increasing levels of healthy fatty acids in oils

Make foods taste better and reduce food waste by:

  • Improving the shelf-life, texture and flavour of strawberries
  • Breeding apples, tomatoes, bananas, melons and potatoes that don’t brown
  • Growing sweeter peppers and peas

Develop more precise growing technologies such as:

  • GPS, satellite and light imaging to pinpoint pest-affected areas and spray only where pesticides are most needed
  • Nitrogen-efficient plants that require fewer applications of fertilizer

Develop hardier, more successful crops such as:

  • Seeds that grow in drought conditions or in soils with excessive water
  • Crops that grow in salty soils that would typically be unusable for farming
  • Plants that can withstand viral and insect transmitted diseases
  • Crops with that dry faster so they can be stored easily and with less heat energy
  • Seeds that can respond to and defend against specific threats when triggered

Putting an end to apple waste

Thanks to a plant science innovation, the days of old-looking, unappealing and browning apples are gone. Because many people won’t buy or eat apples if they are bruised or browning, almost 40 per cent of apples go to waste. As a solution, scientists have developed a non-browning, non-bruising apple that still holds the taste and texture we love.