Monsanto Leads $ 47-M Corn Research

Article excerpt

The drought-resistant corn project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, involves the development through genetic modification (GM) of a corn variety that can withstand extreme absence of moisture over maybe three to four weeks. The drought-resistant gene may come from a wild plant.

Drought-resistant corn that have so far been developed under conventional means can last without moisture over one week.

The germplasm for the research which will be donated by the International Maize and What Improvement Center, a sister agency of the Philippines- based International Rice Research Institute.

The project, really meant for the benefit of more arid areas in Africa as it is called Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), may in some way benefit the Philippines in the future as local farmers also need it.

"We don't know if the Philippines can get it, said Vic Alpuerto, Monsanto Philippines Inc. commercial acceptance director.

"But of course our farmers look for this. All of our corn lands are in rainfed areas. No corn growing areas have irrigation facilities. Drought is farmers' most damaging problem."

A private-public partnership program, the development of the droughtresistant corn will involve no royalty for the developers. With such system, the technology could perhaps be generously donated to other needy countries.

Because of the food crisis, Monsanto has introduced a three-point program which are developing better seeds, conserving resources (to cut by one-third the resources like land, water, and energy used by 2030), and helping improve farmers' lives. …