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Bill Gates in Edinburgh for ‘cutting-edge’ crop announcement

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who is going to visit Edinburgh University (Dave Thompson/PA Wire)
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who is going to visit Edinburgh University (Dave Thompson/PA Wire)

BILL GATES is to visit a Scottish university for the unveiling of a new “cutting-edge” crop research project.

The Microsoft founder will be on a joint visit to the University of Edinburgh when the announcement is made.

It comes after major funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation into developing more nutritious and flood-resistant foods has helped towards the scheme.

Mr Gates said: “For over a billion people living in the world’s poorest countries, agriculture and livestock are a lifeline out of poverty.

“The science and research being led by the great minds here in Edinburgh are making huge strides in improving the health and productivity of livestock.

“It’s great to have the chance to visit the University of Edinburgh with Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt and to see how the UK’s leadership in research and innovation doesn’t just benefit Britain, but also saves and improves lives in the poorest parts of the world.”

Millions of farmers in Africa, who depend on agriculture to support their families, struggle to grow enough crops to put food on the table because of natural disasters.

Now UK scientists are using their expertise to identify specific genes that help them become more nutritious, grow faster and more resilient to disease and extreme weather.

It is estimated the work will help up to 100 million African farmers lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who is announcing the research, said: “Unpredictable flooding, plant diseases and drought are threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of farmers in Africa who struggle to grow enough crops to put food on the table – the urgency of the task is clear.

“That’s why UK aid is supporting British scientists to develop new crops that are more productive, more nutritious and more resistant to droughts and flooding, as well as creating new medicines to protect cattle and poultry from devastating disease.

“New ideas, cutting edge science and innovative partnerships with organisations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will help Britain create a healthier, more secure and prosperous world for us all.”

At the University of Edinburgh, UK scientists are also researching diseases which cause huge economic losses for African farmers, including Animal African Trypanosomiasis (AAT).

This disease kills more than three million cattle a year and has been estimated to cost over four billion US dollars a year in total to African economies.

Scientists believe within the next five years a new drug will be available to treat AAT.

The research, being carried out by CGIAR could, also help British farmers who face similar threats in the future, by identifying responses to diseases before they reach the UK.