Bill Gates

Furthering his commitment to using biotechnology and genetically modified foods in combating global hunger, Bill Gates has contributed $25 million along with Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim, to support the development of new biotech labs at Mexico’s International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.

The center, located just east of Mexico City, will focus on developing more varieties of GMO grains, particularly for farmers in the developing world and as climate change takes its toll around the globe. According to the Huffington Post, the new facilities will include hothouses designed to keep GMO materials from escaping and potentially pollinating with non-GMO crops.

In the last 50 years, the center’s nonprofit, known as CIMMYT, has provided “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, reports the Huffington Post. And the center is now developing more seeds based on GMO technologies, even though some countries ban or severely restrict genetically modified seeds. CIMMYT Director Thomas Lumpkin said that nothing will be “pushed or forced” on any country and the group will not profit from the technology.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spends a considerable amount of focus on supporting developing countries, particularly in Africa. The Foundation has also been a strong supporter of GMO foods despite the controversies including less than anticipated crop yields, which have left some poor farmers in debt to multinational seed corporations such as Monsanto.

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Image: jurvetson