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Feb 17, 2010

Pioneer Gates Africa Project - Private Aid Partnership Sponsors Transfer of DT GM Seed to Farmers in Africa

The Des Moines Register reports that Pioneer Hi-Bred has teamed with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help scientists in Africa develop genetically modified (GM) corn varieties that would allow poor farmers to increase their yields with less fertilizer.  The project is aimed at increasing corn yields by 50 percent using nitrogen efficiency gene-engineering.

This Pioneer-Gates project is one of two private aid programs sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The second project (now underway two years) focuses on improving drought tolerance in maize.  It is sponsored by the Gates Foundation and Monsanto.

In both projects, Pioneer and Monsanto have agreed to make GM seed available, royalty-free to small farmers.  The mission of both projects is to help alleviate chronic food shortages in Africa and the solution to focused on increasing crop yields with new seeds.

Drought-tolerant maize is projected for release in the United States in 2012.  Monsanto hopes to have its drought-tolerant seeds to small-scale farmers in Africa by 2016.

Pioneer is focused on first producing nitrogen efficient seeds that are created using conventional hybridization methods and traditional molecular breeding techniques.  It projects these conventional hybrid nitrogen efficiency seeds could be available for small farmers in Africa in 2014.  Following this, the company will identify "gene markers" that target in improving nitrogen efficiency to an even higher level.  This will require gene-engineering and these new GM nitrogen efficiency plants may be available by "by the end of the decade."

For more see: Brasher, Philip. “Pioneer, Gates to Give African Farmers Biotech Seed.” Des Moines Register, 17 Feb. 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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