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

em rust, of which Ug99 is a variant, is the most feared because it can quickly lead to the loss of an entire harvest.

Since 2008, when the DRRW project was first funded with US$26.8 million from the foundation, researchers have distributed new resistant wheat varieties for testing and evaluation in 40 countries; strengthened nurseries in Kenya and Ethiopia for screening wheat for vulnerability to rusts; and distributed nearly five tons of Ug99-resistant seed for planting in the at-risk nations of Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

"Wheat is one of Kenya's most important crops, second only to maize. Our people depend upon it for food security," said Ruth Wanyera, a plant pathologist with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute in Njoro. "We hope this important investment on the part of the Gates Foundation and DFID will prompt other funders and policy makers in the industrialized and developing worlds to support efforts to protect our global wheat supply."

Initially called to arms by Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug, the DRRW works closely with the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) on a global strategy to avert agricultural disaster for wheat.

"This is a major and much-welcomed investment," said Jeanie Borlaug, daughter of the late Norman Borlaug, and chair of the BGRI. "My Dad used to say, 'rust never sleeps.' The world's leaders are waking up to this threat."


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Contact: John Carberry
jjc338@cornell.edu
607-255-5353
Cornell University
Source:Eurekalert

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