British GM crop scientists win $10m grant from Gates

 
Corn crops Poorer farmers in Africa cannot afford agricultural fertiliser for their crops

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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.

It comes at a time when bio-tech researchers are trying to allay public fears over genetic modification.

The work at the John Innes Centre in Norwich is hoped to benefit African farmers who cannot afford fertiliser.

Agricultural fertiliser is important for crop production across the globe.

But the many of the poorest farmers cannot afford fertiliser - and it is responsible for large greenhouse gas emissions.

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 revolutionise agriculture and, in particular, help struggling maize farmers in sub-Saharan Africa - something the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is keen to do.

'Major problems'

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.

Pete Riley, campaign director of the group GM Freeze, said there was a realisation by many farmers across the world that "GM is failing to deliver".

"If you look in America, yields haven't increased by any significant amount and often go down," he said.

He added: "Now we're seeing real, major problems for farmers in terms of weeds that are resistant to the herbicides which GM crops have been modified to tolerate."

See more on this story on BBC One's Countryfile at 20:00 BST on Sunday 15 July

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 607.

    5991900just
    ha, ha, ha.You should read my posts again, you might want to read up on articles on unsustainable population growth without a change of resource usuage.You might also note I didn't mention any group, I believe all peoples should be looking at stabilising the world population not for the betterment of the few but for all.PS I grew up in a council house in east london so hardly the few!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 606.

    584 Denmark,.........Blah burble... Self-righteousness totally ignorant.. burp

    Hey Denmark, your precious `Beans`are coming out of the wrong end of you...matches equally your pea brain, which means a good debate is wasted on it. Stick that in the book too.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 605.

    DenmarK, If they're not most (90%) Pharma, Petroleum, Nuclear, Nasa, etc etc, will be encouraging greater good within the globe community and most research & development will take place in poorer parts of the globe, instead what they do promote Killing, Polluting, Weaponizing, Monitoring etc etc the global community. If these folks intentions not option trading, would have been tolerance society.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 604.

    Chryses 589: "“... The accumulated wisdom of generations has shown us what is good and what is not ...”

    Suuuuuuuure it does! For example, let us take the proposition ‘Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible’

    Taken out of context indeed. Straw-man attack there ^. Are you seriously disputing the existence of folk wisdom regarding edible plants and herbs?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 603.

    595 Mama bear - If you're concerned about corn crops in Mexico, a far bigger issue is their use as biofuel. It's more profitable for some Mexican farmers to sell corn to produce biofuel for Americans than it is to produce food for Mexicans.
    Perhaps GM technology could allow us to produce inedible crops that give a huge amount of oil and grow in poor conditions, helping to solve the oil shortage.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 602.

    There are some good points both pro and anti GM, but there are a large number of “no to GMO” advocates who have no idea what they are talking about and are anti-GM on the basis that science is a bad thing, and scientists are all self seeking money-grubbing Frankenstein’s. Let’s hope that this uneducated mass of luddites doesn’t slide us into a new dark age of totalitarian intolerance.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 601.

    #594 contd

    I do not expect human extinction, just that our civilization goes the way of Ninevah and Tyre.
    We should be able to sustain an early-Victorian level of technology indefinately, feeding about 1 billion people. The resources to do more will be gone, or too scattered to be usable.

  • Comment number 600.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 599.

    Jason,
    Where did you get the idea about this population growth, Do you control the resources of the planet and universe. Could you comprehend the intricacies and patterns of the universe.

    Are you just one of those land grabber out there, want the resources of the planet for the chosen few. Do you believe these BGF & Co are planning and executing events for greater good for all species that exist

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 598.

    God help us! GM means more fertiliser not less... they just make the plants more resistent to the pesticides then pump all the pesticides and fertilizers (chemicals) they can! and next year the game starts over! the GM seeds are sterile which means the famer has to buy them each and every year! this is (modern) sclavagims not charity! this is the true face of BGF! shame on them!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 597.

    If achieved, this piece of science will be revolutionary! This would reduce the need of fertiliser usage not only in the third world but also the whole landscape of agriculture. This would also reduce much of the carbon cost for growing food (plants and meat (feedstock)), and at the same time bring down food cost and have a huge affect on global economics. GM haters? go back to your caves!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 596.

    Well considering we have been sticking MSG/preservatives into our systems for quite a few years and only now people are raising questions over it I dread to think what GM crops will do to us in 50 years time!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 595.

    In Brazil they tried to keep gm crops out. They were forced to certify them after a mysterious invasion of GM crops which contaminated native seeds. Representatives of Monsanto had been lobbying the government to no avail. In Mexico the use of these crops has contaminated the native indian corn which Monsanto had no rights to. The same will happen in UK and Europe. All imported food is suspect.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 594.

    #586 Chryses, #586 Lamna Nasus

    Trend analysis suggests that we lose the fuel to practice intensive agriculture around 2050( no tractors and no Haber process).
    Our population will reach 10 billion around 2050 if current trends continue, the maximum our food supply estimates can support.
    It is also the time at which the IPCC models suggest serious desertification and sea level rises kick in.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 593.

    Rational Man 566: "...but the end result is no different to any of the above techniques."

    Except when we end up eating pesticides built into the food and which cannot be washed off.
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/08/09/enjoy-pesticides-in-every-bite-of-gmo-food.aspx

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 592.

    588 1900just
    Thats very subjective! I never suggested cutting population for the poor, or just allowing me to breed! The only way the human race can survive is if our population stops growing at a exponentially rate and we start looking after each other rather grapping for the nearest consumer junk

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 591.

    1900just
    I suggest you go and lie down. Your latest contribution 588 is incomprehensible babble... unlike previous comments which were just babble. Smoking something naughty are we?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 590.

    @583

    Reasonably sustainable fishing policies too (leaving the whaling issue aside).. slightly surprised Iceland has not set itself up as the logical destination for companies providing massive Server capacity for the IT industry.. all that cheap Geothermal power.. Cloud computing capacity could help turn their economy around.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 589.

    Reverence (582),

    “... The accumulated wisdom of generations has shown us what is good and what is not ...”

    Suuuuuuuure it does! For example, let us take the proposition ‘Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible’

    http://tinyurl.com/78mbtz2

    LOL!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 588.

    Jason,
    Intelligent is very subjective issue, Greater damage is done by "Educated" community to the globe. However, who're you reduce the global population, Do you possess genes from the "Mighty Above" are you part of BGF & Co wanting to provide dominant/intermediate gene pool subsidiaries. "Haves" crocodile tears towards poverty, hunger, homeless, unemployment etc.. mask days are numbered.

 

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