The success of the Green Revolution, in its first stage limited to wheat and irrigated rice in high-potential areas, proved difficult to extend to low-resource stress environments. In the 1980s, development-oriented scientists started rethinking methods of plant breeding in the Global South. They tried involving farmers in decentralized selection under stress conditions, and found that this increased the likelihood of identifying materials that could meet local agro-ecological and socio-economic requirements in low-resource target areas. Other actors soon saw other advantages in what became known as participatory plant breeding (PPB). The global genetic resources movement embraced PPB as an alternative to the Green Revolution approach, which had become seen as a driver of genetic erosion and encroachment of intellectual property rights on seeds. Community organizers elevated the objectives of social justice and empowerment to priorities, and NGO-driven PPB programmes mushroomed in the 1990s. Since then, PPB have found support in the ‘food movement’ engaged in developing food systems based on local ecology and food culture, extending the PPB agenda to agricultural development in the Global North. The most successful PPB programmes have integrated crop improvement activity with seed-system development efforts for sustainable seed production and distribution.