Crop Biotech Update

BREAD Grants for Basic Agricultural Research

May 21, 2010

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded 15 grants in the inaugural year of the Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) program. The five-year program, jointly funded with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to generate sustainable, science-based solutions to agricultural problems in developing countries.

According to NSF, the awards will allow scientists to "employ novel, creative approaches and technologies to address common constraints faced by small-holder farmers." For example, a research team at Washington State University, Purdue University, the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, COMSATS University (Pakistan), the Punjab Agricultural University (India), and Pioneer Hi-Bred will work to identify novel dwarfing genes that will increase yield in wheat under drought stress.

"By engaging leading scientists worldwide, the BREAD program will creatively address critical agricultural challenges," said Rob Horsch, deputy director of the Agricultural Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Resulting solutions will help small farmers in the developing world grow more and earn more so they can lift themselves and their families out of hunger and poverty."

The awards, made to 42 institutions in the U.S. include international collaborators in Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Australia, Colombia, Mexico, Switzerland, Denmark, Pakistan, India, Papua New Guinea, and the United Kingdom. Scientists from Centers of the Consultative Group for International Agriculture (CGIAR) and from the private sector will also participate in some of the projects.

The NSF media release is at http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=116932 A complete list of 2010 BREAD awards can be accessed at http://www.nsf.gov/bio/pubs/awards/bread10.htm.