Bill Gates funds crop scheme
Billionaire computer magnate Bill Gates is to fund a $9.8m (€8m) research project into whether cereal crops can be genetically engineered with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
The aim is to create cereal crops that can access nitrogen from the air using symbiotic bacteria, reducing the need for expensive chemical fertiliser.
Microsoft founder Gates and wife Melinda are backing the project through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in an attempt to help small subsistence farmers around the world.
The focus of the investigation will be maize, which is the most important staple crop for small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.
However, if successful, the technology will be applicable to all cereal crops including wheat, barley and rice.
The John Innes Centre in Norwich, England, is to lead the five-year research programme.