Scientists wins $10m Gates grant for self-fertilising cereals

Scientists wins $10m Gates grant for self-fertilising cereals

July 23, 2012

"British scientists have secured a $10m grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop genetically modified corn, wheat, and rice that requires no fertiliser.

The work at the John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norwich is aiming to improve the lives of subsistence farmers in Africa, many of whom can not afford the fertilisers currently required to boost yields.

But the center said there could also be associated environmental benefits, as making and applying fertiliser contributes half the carbon footprint of agriculture and can cause pollution via run off into water sources.

The research will try to engineer cereal crops that can fix nitrogen from the air in the manner of legumes such as peas and beans, vastly reducing the need for additional chemical agents.

If it is found to work, farmers would be able to pass on the technology simply by sharing seeds, potentially revolutionizing agriculture across the continent."

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