British plant scientists win $10M grant from Gates Foundation


Celebrating a century of plant breeding

British scientists have won a £6.4 million grant to develop GM crops – one of the largest single investments into genetic modification in the UK.

The money, awarded by the Gates Foundation, will be used to cultivate corn, wheat and rice that need little or no fertiliser.

It is hoped the work at the John Innes Centre in Norwich will benefit struggling maize farmers in sub-Saharan Africa who cannot afford to treat their crops.

Plant scientists at the independent unit are trying to engineer cereal crops capable of taking nitrogen from the air – as peas and beans do – rather than needing chemical ammonia spread on fields.

Giles Oldroyd, from the John Innes Centre, told the BBC the project was vital for poorer African farmers and would have a huge impact on global agriculture.

Bravo! The Gates Foundation maintains a dedication to science for the benefit of the poor and needy that would serve as an inspiration to any government — if we could find one that would listen.

The wry part of this process is that anti-science environmentalists who decry climate deniers for fatuous opposition to schemes to combat climate change are equally hypocritical in their own
opposition to scientifically modified crops. Their fears are mostly groundless – more often predicated on populist ideology than anything else. Useless to farmers and folks who really need productive cropped foods.

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