World’s richest men aid ‘green revolution’ center

The research center largely responsible for launching the “green revolution” of the 1960s that dramatically raised crop yields is getting support from the world’s richest men to develop genetically-modified seeds to help farmers in the developing world grow more grain in the face of a changing climatic conditions and increased demand.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim donated a total of $25 million to build a new cluster of biotechnology labs at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico.

The facilities include hothouses “with high-efficiency air particle filters and a water treatment plant to prevent pollen and genetically modified material from escaping to the outdoors,” according to a statement by the billionaires’ foundations.

Both of the philanthropists were on hand for Wednesday’s inauguration of the new labs at the research center, known as CIMMYT, located just east of Mexico City.

It was yet another coming of age moment for GM crops, because the nonprofit CIMMYT has become known over the last 50 years for providing low-cost, improved seeds through hybridization efforts, using its vast stockpiles of native corn and wheat genes from across the world to cross-breed the best attributes, like drought-resistance.

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