In his annual letter as the head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates stressed the importance of agricultural research in combating global poverty, hunger, and climate change.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private charity in the world, with an endowment of roughly $37.1 billion. It’s primary goals include expanding access to healthcare, fighting extreme poverty, and expanding access to education and information technology.
In his 2012 letter, Gates linked his foundation’s commitment to ending poverty with technological advances in agricultural production. Citing the Green Revolution in the 1960s and 70s, Gates credited scientific advances in farming with helping to reduce significantly poverty and hunger, increasing food production 50 percent in some places and helping to lower global extreme poverty from 40 percent in the 1950s to roughly 15 percent today.
These agricultural advances, however, are threatened by the current political and economic climate. In the United States, the recent austerity measures embraced by Congress have led to massive reductions in agricultural funding. These budget cuts have led to the closures of many agricultural research centers across the country.
Reducing this funding, Gates argues could lead to increased poverty and hunger across the globe. “The world faces a clear choice,” Gates said, “If we invest relatively modest amounts, many more poor farmers will be able to feed their families. If we don’t, one in seven people will continue living needlessly on the edge of starvation.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already committed about $2 billion to helping poor farmers boost their productivity.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer