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Can GM Crops Help to Feed the World?

Submission Window: Closed

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that chronic hunger and malnutrition currently plague 820 million people, over one-eighth of the global population of 6.8 billion. By 2050, world population is expected to reach 9 billion. To accommodate this growth, the FAO warns that the world will have to nearly double its current output of food, feed, and fiber. Yet without new technology and innovative farming methods, this goal will be very hard to meet.
The Foundation's Funding Priority on genetically modified (GM) crops is part of our broader, charter-based mandate to fund highly-focused, strategic initiatives on genetics. We are seeking Online Funding Inquiries for research proposals that focus on improved understanding of the potential benefits and applications of GM crops.
Most parts of the world now generally accept the use of genetic engineering in medicine and industrial microbiology ("red" and "white" biotechnology). But a variety of political and perception issues have led to restrictions on the production and use of GM crop plants ("green" biotechnology), particularly in rural areas of less-developed countries, where need is the greatest and where small-scale agriculture constitutes the main economic activity. And although primary scientific research in GM crops is well funded by government, industry, and the philanthropic sector, investigation of the optimal practices and policies for implementing GM technology has received much less attention and support.
The Foundation’s 2011 Funding Priority “Can GM Crops Help to Feed the World?” encourages researchers to investigate this timely subject by addressing one or more of the following Big Questions in an Online Funding Inquiry:

  1. 1What are the scientifically-established nutritional, social, and environmental consequences of GM crops, particularly for small landholders? In which regions of the world would their use be most appropriate and beneficial? In which settings might they have deleterious effects?
  2. 2Can the use of GM crops have an economic impact across different levels of income in less-developed countries? What role might they play in improved land use (e.g. less chemical fertilizer); more efficient production (e.g. possible reductions in energy expenditures); the enhancement of domestic and international marketing services; and/or improved credit facilities?
  3. 3What are the barriers to the acceptance and use of GM crops? What policies have enabled and/or hindered their use? What is the science-based evidence about the role that the following issues play in facilitating or inhibiting the adoption of GM crops: (a) international trade; (b) bio-safety and/or bio-security; (c) regulatory and/or intellectual property frameworks?

Budget range and term for individual projects: From $50,000 to $250,000 and for up to two years.
 

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