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The history of plant breeding dates back to 9000 BCE, when people in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) planted the first seeds. Since then, people worldwide have domesticated and bred wild plants for food.

Early plant cultivators relied on cross-breeding two different species to improve crops. This was a slow, laborious process. Developing a new variety often took years or even generations.

The process became much more efficient and precise as scientists began to understand how genes control the expression of traits. In the 20th century, using detailed knowledge of a plant's DNA, scientists could make more exact changes to its genetic code.

Thanks to innovation and evolving breeding methods in agriculture and food, and a deep understanding of DNA, scientists can make precise genetic changes to plants to meet some of society's most urgent and pressing challenges including climate change, sustainability, hunger and improving health and wellness.