BREAD: rising money for science?

I keep an eye on a lot of mailing lists.  Usually they are the ones for database or software resources in our field.  But I also keep an eye on some funding ones.  We aren’t always eligible, but it also helps us to get a sense of the directions that projects are going.

Yesterday I saw one that surprised me on several levels.  It is called BREAD funding.  BREAD stands for Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development.  I found this one interesting because:

1. It is a joint project between NSF and The Gates Foundation.  Maybe there are other federal funding projects that involve private foundations like this.  But I haven’t seen them.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) are partnering to support a new research program to be administered by NSF. The objective of the BREAD Program is to support innovative scientific research designed to address key constraints to smallholder agriculture in the developing world

2. It is giving money for plant genomics in agriculture.  Cool! Among the possible directions for the research:

  • New strategies for creating resistance to major diseases and pests that affect plants, animals or insects of agricultural importance, and that have major impact in broad regions of the developing world.

3. It actually uses the phrase “climate change” and calls it a threat.  And acknowledges several thing that I don’t think the last administration was serious about at all:

  • Novel approaches to using the genetic diversity of plants, microbes, or animals to enhance the ability of small-scale farmers to adapt to emerging threats of global climate change, emerging diseases, and the rising costs of energy.

Anyway, I’m delighted to see basic research on plants in agriculture in Africa and Asia getting some attention.  I was pleased when I heard Hillary Clinton refer to this recently, but I was waiting for someone to show me the money. And what do you know–they did.

This specific grant: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2009/nsf09566/nsf09566.htm?govDel=USNSF_25

More on the BREAD program: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503285

Press release on the NSF + BMGF partnership:  http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-03/nsf-nsf033009.php