Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Bill Gates and GM crops
Our grants help farmers
Editor, The Times:
At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we work with smallholder farmers in the developing world so they can grow enough food to eat and provide for their families [“Bill Gates’ support of GM crops is wrong approach for Africa,” Opinion, Feb. 28].
Our grants demonstrate our focus on small farmers, which is highlighted by our recent announcement of $200 million in new grants. These are helping small farmers access better seeds and training. They are helping empower women farmers.
And they are developing a system to measure how agriculture affects environmental and human health. For these to be effective, we must understand what small farmers need. That’s core to our approach.
Investments that include genetic modification represent about 6 percent of our agriculture and nutrition-grant portfolios.
We invest in this kind of research when there’s potential to address challenges like crop diseases and drought that small farmers face faster and more efficiently than conventional techniques.
We work with hundreds of partners. Monsanto is involved in one grant developing drought-tolerant maize varieties. These aren’t in the field yet, but if the research is successful, farmers in Africa will have seeds that can withstand drought, without paying additional fees to use them.
We welcome a dialogue about the best way to help poor farming families overcome hunger and build better lives. It’s an urgent and complex challenge with no single solution.
— Sam Dryden, director of Agricultural Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation