July 16, 2012
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given British scientists a multi-million pound grant to develop GM crops in what could be the most significant PR endorsement for the controversial technology.
The John Innes Centre in Norwich has received £6.4m for a five-year project to engineer cereals such as corn and barley to extract nitrogen from the atmosphere, rather than relying on ammonia-based fertilisers.
But the decision by the Gates Foundation to invest substantial funds in technology that has been promising an agricultural revolution for almost two decades provoked anger last night. The money would have been better spent on proven bio-tech techniques and cheap “agro-ecology sustainable practices” (low-input, traditional, organic) that have the potential to meet global food needs and yield long-term food security, said Dr Michael Antoniou, a molecular geneticist from King’s College London’s medical school.