Plan forms to create heat-tolerant wheat varieties

by Jeff Gelski
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DAVIS, CALIF., MEXICO CITY and WASHINGTON — Developing heat-tolerant wheat varieties is the goal of an effort that brings together Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Under an agreement signed Oct. 19, the CIMMYT will receive non-exclusive rights in developing countries to Arcadia’s heat-tolerance technology. Arcadia will retain exclusive commercial rights in the developed world and lead the program under a $3.8 million grant from USAID.

Demand for wheat in developing countries is projected to increase 60% by 2050. While total wheat acres are increasing, global wheat productivity is decreasing, mostly because of increasing average temperatures. Current climate change models suggest wheat yields may decline by as much as 40% by 2050 in South Asia.

“Our partnership with USAID and CIMMYT enables us to share advances in our wheat technology program and access CIMMYT’s expertise and experience testing wheat in stressed environments,” said Eric Rey, president and chief executive officer of Arcadia Biosciences, an agricultural technology company based in Davis. “Through our global commercial wheat relationships, products of this collaboration will benefit farmers in the major wheat-producing countries and contribute to the productivity of small farmers in developing countries, thereby enhancing food security.”

Based in Mexico, the CIMMYT is a not-for-profit agriculture research and training organization. USAID is an independent agency that provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of U.S. foreign policy goals.

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