Biotech Updates

General Mills Grant Will Help Vanilla Farmers and Tropical Forests

July 8, 2011

A vanilla research team led by University of California Davis professor in the College of Biological Sciences Sharman O'Neill was awarded by General Mills a $200,000 grant to conduct a genomic research to improve vanilla and to ensure sustainable cultivation in Madagascar. The research team include an international group of scientists from the J. Craig Venter Institute in the United States; the French research center CIRAD on Réunion Island; the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar; the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agricolas y Pecuarias /SAGARPA in Mexico; and other international collaborators.

The  research team won the award grant in a competition by General Mills Sustainability Challenge's call for universities' best ideas for reducing waste, encouraging sustainable consumption and using resources responsibly. The team's winning proposal will cover vanilla farmers in Madagascar, Mexico and tropical regions who are struggling to keep growing vanilla beans despite low prices, fungal-disease epidemic, climate stress and environmental deterioration.

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