British GM crop scientists win $10 million grant from Gates
July 16, 2012 | Source: BBC News
A team of British plant scientists has won a $10m (£6.4m) grant from the Gates Foundation to develop GM cereal crops.
It is one of the largest single investments into GM in the UK and will be used to cultivate corn, wheat and rice that need little or no fertiliser.
The work at the John Innes Centre in Norwich is hoped to benefit African farmers who cannot afford fertilizer.
The John Innes Centre is trying to engineer cereal crops that could get nitrogen from the air — as peas and beans do — rather than needing chemical ammonia spread on fields.
If successful, it is hoped the project could revolutionize agriculture and, in particular, help struggling maize farmers in sub-Saharan Africa — something the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is keen to do.
Professor Giles Oldroyd from the John Innes Centre, who is leading the team, said the project was vital for poorer producers and could have a “huge impact” on global agriculture.
“We believe if we can get nitron fixing cereals we can deliver much higher yields to farmers in Africa and allow them to grow enough food for themselves.”
However, opponents of GM crops say results will not be achieved for decades at best, and global food shortages could be addressed now through improving distribution and cutting waste.