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IRRI confirms Bill Gates' agenda in PH: Check out work on climate change-ready rice

Reuters file photo of Bill Gates
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines – The Laguna-based International Rice Research Institute has confirmed reports that the purpose of Microsoft chairman and American billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates and his team’s visit this week to the Philippines was to get updates on IRRI’s work on climate change-ready rice.

In a statement on Thursday, IRRI said senior officers of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) went to the institute in Los Baños “to see for themselves the work being done at the world’s premier research center on rice.”

Mr. Gates was with BMGF leaders, including Agricultural Development Program director Pamela Anderson and senior program officer Gary Atlin “to tour IRRI’s research facilities and hear updates on the science and the partnership between the two organizations.”

IRRI said that during the visit of BMGF leaders, the institute’s scientists “gave briefings on key advances, including the latest on climate change-ready rice and healthier varieties that aim to help solve micronutrient deficiencies, which afflict about two billion people globally.”

The climate change-ready rice varieties that have reached millions of farmers in Asia were developed by IRRI and its partners under the BMGF-funded project, Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia or STRASA, the institute said.

“These stress-tolerant varieties hold the promise of improving the livelihoods of some of the world’s poorest farmers who till lands most vulnerable to climate change—and securing the granaries of many countries—by ensuring a good harvest, for instance, even after over 14 days of flooding. Non-tolerant rice varieties would normally die after four days of submergence,” IRRI said.

“We are thankful that the BMGF has come for updates on the food and nutrition security initiatives that they support,” said Robert Zeigler, director general of IRRI. “The foundation is a staunch partner in applying the best of science so that people in the rice-eating world will not go hungry.”

Also, IRRI said its scientists showed the BMGF leaders experimental rice plots in which flood or drought tolerance is being studied.

It said BMGF officials also visited a facility at the institute that simulates drought conditions year-round.