Cornell University has announced a $5.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to design and promote constructive policies that position agricultural biotechnology and genetically modified organisms as tools to address significant challenges.
The grant will enable the Cornell Alliance for Science to develop an online portal and training programs that help researchers and stakeholders effectively communicate to decision makers and consumers the potential impact of agricultural technology. In addition, the project will invite farmers to document and share their struggles in dealing with pests, diseases, crop failure, and the limited resources available in the face of poverty and climate change and will work to support annual conferences, short courses, and certificate programs in biotechnology leadership.
"Our goal is to depolarize the GMO debate and engage with potential partners who may share common values around poverty reduction and sustainable agriculture, but may not be well informed about the potential biotechnology has for solving major agricultural challenges," said project lead Sarah Evanega, senior associate director of International Programs in Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "For instance, pro-biotech activists share a lot of the same anti-pesticide, low-input, sustainable-agriculture vision as the organic movement."