“The original premise of swapping genes to rapidly develop new GM varieties has been useful for informing conventional breeding and has helped inform much more targeted breeding programmes than was previously possible,” believes Fiona, “Now we know more about the specific gene we want and can select and reject progeny rapidly by testing if the desired gene is present. And where before in conventional breeding you would have to wait a year to get offspring off a plant, we are building the ability to do three, four or even six generations of crops in a year through special lighting and growth conditions not through GM.”

“This ability to speed up breeding through conventional ways offers huge potential to conventional breeding plans to get new varieties. As it stands, some plant breeding programmes will grow a crop in the northern hemisphere, then fly seed to the southern hemisphere like New Zealand to grow again, therefore you are getting two crops in a year.