Howard-Yana Shapiro, the agricultural director at Mars, plans to work with researchers in the US and China to sequence orphan crops, the Guardian reports. Those crops include yam, finger millet, tef, groundnut, cassava and sweet potato, which are staple foods for many people in Africa. Shapiro adds that genetic information from the crops will be made freely available on the internet with the caveat that it cannot be patented.
"It's not charity. It's a gift. [It's] an improvement of African agriculture. These crops will never be worked on by the big five [seed] companies," Shapiro says.