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Gates Foundation pledges $70 million for food security

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced last month that it would donate $70 million to agricultural research initiatives in Asia and Africa, according to Reuters.

Lack of food security and growing food prices throughout the world have been blamed as some of the reasons for the recent political instability sweeping through the Middle East.

According to recent data released by the World Bank, food price increases have lead to an additional 44 million people living in extreme poverty since June of last year.

The money from the Gates Foundation will go to research, with $25 million already pledged to Cornell University, according to the Cornell Sun.

Scientists at Cornell are studying Ug99, a type of stem rust disease that affects wheat.

"[Ug99] is one of the worst diseases of wheat. It can cause real devastation," Professor Sarah Nell Davidson, associate director of the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat program at Cornell, told the campus news source.

"It’s thought to have caused some of the major famines in the Bible," said Davidson, of the disease that has plagued human food security for thousands of years.
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