EXTRACTS: He was recruited for the position by Rob Horsch, a former Monsanto executive who left for the foundation last fall. Both will be working to fund projects aimed at small farmers in the developing world.
[The Monsanto-funded Danforth Center's president, Roger Beachy] said it won't hurt to have two people familiar with St. Louis researchers holding the strings to the Gates Foundation's large purse.
GM WATCH COMMENT: Kent showed his PR skills at the Danforth Center, helping it to gloss over a public relations debacle after it emerged that its virus-resistant GM cassava had lost its resistance 7 years into the project. (GM cassava fails in Africa)
For how the Danforth Center is financially dependent on Monsanto: www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=200 --- ---
Gates Foundation taps a second St. Louisan By Eric Hand ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5 January 2007
A second prominent figure in the St. Louis plant science community will be leaving for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has been gobbling up America's best and brightest to help it spend billions of dollars on issues of global poverty and hunger.
Lawrence Kent, the director of international programs at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur, said he would begin work in Seattle on March 1.
He was recruited for the position by Rob Horsch, a former Monsanto executive who left for the foundation last fall. Both will be working to fund projects aimed at small farmers in the developing world.
"What it says is that the Gates Foundation knows where to get good people," said Danforth Center president Roger Beachy.
"He knew Africa," Beachy said. "He had the same philosophy that I do, which is that science should be useful."
Beachy said it won't hurt to have two people familiar with St. Louis researchers holding the strings to the Gates Foundation's large purse.
The foundation has a $32 billion endowment that is just beginning to incorporate money from a $31 billion pledge made by billionaire investor Warren Buffett last year.
Kent will report to Horsch, and Horsch will report to Dr. Rajiv Shah, the director of agricultural development programs, which will fund projects in four areas: technology to improve seeds and crop yields; fertilizer, irrigation and other farm management systems; access to markets; and advocacy for improved agricultural policies.
As to whether the Gates Foundation supports controversial biotechnologies, Shah said: "We do believe in the power of science and technology to transform peoples' lives. That said, all of our funding to date in the agriculture portfolio has been looking at conventional ways to improve crops." He added, "At the end of the day, we believe countries and farmers should make up their minds about the technology."
Kent has been involved in trying to bring a genetically modified cassava, an important potato-like crop, to African nations. The plant is suffering from a continent-wide disease that has cut yields in half. Scientists at the nonprofit Danforth Center, which freely licenses its technology to poor countries, have genetically engineered a cassava that is resistant to the plant virus causing the disease. The center also is part of a consortium that has received money from the Gates Foundation's global health initiatives to fortify cassava with vitamins and minerals.
Monsanto's Men Control Gates Foundation's Millions
GM Watch, Jan 5, 2007
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