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Genome Canada, WGRF Launch C$90M Genomics Initiative to Improve Food Safety and Sustainability

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Genome Canada said today it has teamed with the privately funded Western Grains Research Foundation to invest C$90 million (US$82.9 million) in research projects that will use an array of omics technologies to address global food sustainability, safety, and security.

Genome Canada said it will pump C$30 million the program and WGRF will provide C$5 million. Researchers involved in the initiative will be expected to find matching funds to reach a total of C$90 million.

Through the new Genomics and Feeding the Future program, Genome Canada and WGRF will fund up to 40 percent of the cost of projects that have a total size of up to C$10 million, and the scientists will raise the remaining 60 percent from other partners.

Research conducted under the program will focus on the agri-food and fisheries/aquaculture sectors, and will seek to enhance Canada's agriculture and bioeconomy as well as improve food security.

Genome Canada said these projects must have genomic approaches at their cores, they must be scaled up enough to conduct the genomics research, and they must have the potential to make "a major impact."

"Genomics and genomic-related technologies in the agri-food and fisheries and aquaculture sectors can play a strong role in boosting food production and international trade, raising nutritional value, reducing spoilage, and ensuring food safety both in Canada and globally," Genome Canada President and CEO Pierre Meulien said in a statement.

The Genome Canada and WGRF funding will support studies that use genomics technologies to help food cultivation meet the demands of population growth; improve crops, fish, and livestock health including increased resilience to diseases, drought, and temperature and climate change; improve production systems to lessen their environmental footprints; develop and implement new cost-effective genomic tools; make food supply chains more efficient and less susceptible to spoilage and waste; and improve the environmental sustainability of farmed fish species or protect wild fish.

"Canada is well positioned to be a global leader in providing solutions in these areas, which are urgently needed to meet the projected doubling of world food demand by 2050," Meulien said.