Call for ten-fold boost in Ug99 resistance funds
An international academic consortium including the US University of Minnesota (St Paul) has called for a ten-fold increase in funding to research and develop resistance to the virulent Ug99 race of the wheat pathogen, stem rust ( Puccinia graminis f sp tritici). The researchers note that Ug99 has the potential to spread across Africa, the Middle East and south-west Asia. The development of wheat lines resistant to the fungus is the focus of several international projects, including the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, which is funded by a five-year grant totalling $26 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But University of Minnesota economists estimate that as much as $51 million a year is needed. They arrived at that figure by estimating the economic losses that would likely have occurred without the 20th century research that kept earlier variations of the disease at bay. Details of the study have been published in the journal, Science.