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$40 million helps Cornell lead global battle against wheat pathogen that threatens food security
Date:2/28/2011

ped and developing world and donors will follow the UK's lead and increase investments to provide small-scale farmers with the tools they need to improve their yields so they can feed their families and overcome poverty."

The new grant will allow Cornell to build on international efforts to combat stem rust particularly Ug99 and its variants. Among the university's partners are national research centers in Kenya and Ethiopia, and scientists at two international agricultural research centers that focus on wheat, the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (known by its Spanish acronym as CIMMYT), and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), in Syria. The FAO and advanced research laboratories in the United States, Canada, China, Australia, Denmark and South Africa also collaborate on the project. The DRRW project now involves more than 20 leading universities and research institutes throughout the world, and scientists and farmers from more than 40 countries.

As part of the agreement, DFID will contribute approximately $15M and the foundation $25M to the DRRW over the next five years.

"It is important that public and private institutions work together to develop long-term, sustainable and effective solutions to make life better for the world in which we live," said David J. Skorton, president of Cornell University.

In the 1950s, a fatal strain of wheat stem rust invaded North America and ruined 40 percent of the spring wheat crop. The late Norman Borlaug, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and renowned plant breeder, led a team of scientists who developed high-yield rust-resistant varieties that helped launch the Green Revolution. But 50 years later, virulent new strains of the pathogen emerged unexpectedly in Uganda, putting at risk most of the wheat planted in farmers' fields worldwide.

Two other rusts pose threats to wheat, leaf and stripe, or yellow rust. St
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Contact: John Carberry
jjc338@cornell.edu
607-255-5353
Cornell University
Source:Eurekalert

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