Mars candy to publish genetic maps to improve nutrition from traditional African crops

DU Kenya

A multi-million dollar research group co-founded by the confectionery company Mars is set to publish the genetic maps to five traditional African crops as part of an ambitious project that it says could help end malnutrition on the continent.

The project is applying modern biotechnology to African “orphan crops”… with the goal of breeding new versions that are more productive or more tolerant to drought or disease.

It is one of several new initiatives to develop improved varieties of crops that have been … overlooked by international researchers and industry focused on globally traded staples like wheat and maize.

The researchers say they will publish the crops’ genome sequences online for anyone to download for free; they are also training hundreds of African plant breeders on how to use the data.

. . . .

Mariam Mayet, director of the African Centre for Biodiversity, said: “What are farmers going to do with gene sequences? …  they’re not what small farmers need.”

Patrick Mulvaney, at the UK Food Group, said … “the only ones that can really make use of [genetic data] are the big companies”. He suggested corporations “want orphan crops too, to consolidate their control” of global food systems.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Can Mars’ bid to publish genetic maps of historic African crops boost nutrition?

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