biotech food for Africa

27 03 2006

In the news, some scientists are trying to make sorghum more nutritious, to help combat hunger in places like Africa. You can read the article for more of an explanation of what they’re doing. A point I want to make is that something unusual is happening here. The sole commercial player in this endeavor is Pioneer Hi-Bred International (a subsidiary of DuPont), and they have donated $4.8 million in gene technology, and they have no rights to revenues from the biotech sorghum once it is developed and commercialized. So are they actually doing this only for the good of the people? I figure there’s a tax write-off, but I imagine most companies would try to collect royalties on this. So kudos to them for donating millions of dollars of patented technology and manpower and facilities for the good of humanity!

BTW, the chief funding for this project comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the National Institutes of Health. The foundation last summer awarded a $16.9 million grant for the project. It’s good to see Bill Gates making a difference with all the money he has accumulated. In its first five years, the foundation has given almost $2.4 billion in donations to education — including $1.2 billion in scholarships. And the foundation has given a total of $10.2 billion since it was founded in 2000.

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