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Posted: 2017-03-19 12:00:00

By Umberto Bacchi, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Scientists' efforts to develop new crops able to resist climate change, droughts and other shocks have been boosted by the United States joining an international seeds treaty, a research group said.

The United States this week became the single largest party to a U.N. agreement under which countries allow researchers from other member states free access to their crop gene banks - collections of varieties of seeds, plants and roots.

A farmer throws seeds to plant on a rice paddy field in Ngoc Nu village, south of Hanoi January 22, 2015.
Credit: REUTERS/Kham

By joining, the United States adds more than 570,000 types of maize, wheat, potatoes and other crops to the 1.5 million varieties available under the treaty's sharing system managed by the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

"The quality and size of gene bank contributions by the United States will further the progress of scientific research," CGIAR, a global agricultural research organisation, said in a statement.

As farmers worldwide experience more frequent

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