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Bioscience Issues

Christopher Stawski

The John Templeton Foundation’s funding priority on genetically modified (GM) crops is part of our broader, charter-based mandate to fund highly-focused, strategic initiatives on genetics.


Although primary scientific research in GM crops is well funded by government, industry, and the philanthropic sector, investigation of the optimal practices and policies for implementing GM technology has received much less attention and support.

The Foundation’s 2011 Funding Priority “Can GM Crops Help to Feed the World?” encourages researchers to investigate this timely subject by addressing one or more of the following Big Questions in an Online Funding Inquiry:

What are the scientifically-established nutritional, social, and environmental consequences of GM crops, particularly for small landholders? In which regions of the world would their use be most appropriate and beneficial? In which settings might they have deleterious effects?

Can the use of GM crops have an economic impact across different levels of income in less-developed countries? What role might they play in improved land use (e.g. less chemical fertilizer); more efficient production (e.g. possible reductions in energy expenditures); the enhancement of domestic and international marketing services; and/or improved credit facilities?

What are the barriers to the acceptance and use of GM crops? What policies have enabled and/or hindered their use? What is the science-based evidence about the role that the following issues play in facilitating or inhibiting the adoption of GM crops: (a) international trade; (b) bio-safety and/or bio-security; (c) regulatory and/or intellectual property frameworks?

Projects from 14 universities and leading institutions are being funded by the Foundation under this funding competition.