Can life cycle assessment be used to evaluate plant breeding objectives to improve supply chain sustainability? A worked example using porridge oats from the UK

J. E. McDevitt, Llorenç Milà i Canals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

The challenge for agricultural production in the 21st century is to produce sufficient high-quality food whilst minimizing impact. Life cycle assessment (LCA) can help by identifying the parts of a supply chain with the greatest environmental impact, and to determine which technologies - for example plant breeding - may be most appropriately employed to minimize negative impacts. A 'plough-to-plate' LCA of a porridge oat production chain was undertaken using data that corresponds to the inputs and outputs of an indicative supply chain. The greatest environmental impact of the porridge oats life cycle occurs in crop production and cooking. There are traits for oats that are available for manipulation by plant breeders, which can influence these areas; these include yield, nitrogen use efficiency and beta-glucan content. Therefore plant breeding may be a useful strategy for improving the sustainability of the crop. However LCA cannot be a definitive tool to guide plant breeding and therefore this approach needs to compliment others. Nevertheless this study highlights that porridge oat supply chain sustainability would benefit from an integrated effort stretching from the geneticist to consumer; a finding that is likely to be relevant to other food supply chains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-494
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2011

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