Gates Foundation funds anti-wheat rust drive

A global campaign to combat wheat rust received a USD26.8 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Initiated by Cornell University, the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project gathers together 15 organizations in an effort to address problems posed by wheat rust, a fast-spreading disease that turns “healthy wheat to broken, shriveled stems.” A study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization indicated that wheat accounts for 30 percent of the global production of grain crops, with 598 million tons in harvests for 2008. “By using a very conservative estimate of 10 percent loss in regions hit by stem rust, annual global losses by the year 2016 are predicted at 25 million tons, equivalent to about USD8.3 billion at today’s prices,” disclosed the project document. (Source: GLOBAL: Gates Foundation moves to fight killer wheat disease/IRIN)

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