The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – the charitable organisation funded to the tune of $35 billion from its founder’s software fortune – has given $5.4 million to a biotechnology organisation, funded by Monsanto, to lobby African governments and smooth the entry of GM crops to the continent.
The Danforth Plant Center in St Louis, Missouri, plans to use the money to fund its ‘Grand Challenge 9’ programme, which aims to genetically modify staple crops such as cassava to boost their nutrient content. A key part of the Center’s work, known as ‘Regulatory Approval Strategies’, is to ensure that the path to fi eld-testing GM crops in developing countries is made as easy as possible.
‘An important task of the Regulatory Approval Strategies component is to provide developing countries with the necessary resources to create and streamline regulatory systems,’ reads a description on the Center’s website. A key aim is to create ‘an enabling regulatory environment that advances the safe use of new biotechnologies in agriculture’.
Speaking on receipt of the Gates Foundation grant, Dr Paul Anderson, executive director of international programmes at the Danforth Center, said:
‘Success with this new initiative will provide a blueprint for other institutions and companies seeking to introduce nutritionally enhanced crops in the countries that will most benefit from approving and growing them.’