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New witchweed-fighting method, presented by CIMMYT and Weizmann Institute scientist

REHOVOT, Israel--July 1, 2002--Corn harvests on experimental plots and in farmers' fields in four East and Southern African countries have yielded striking results in long-term trials of an innovative witchweed-fighting technology developed by a Weizmann Institute scientist in collaboration with researchers at CIMMYT (the Spanish acronym for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center). The new technology will be presented to seed producers, government representatives, regional scientists and regulatory agencies at a CIMMYT-sponsored meeting in Kisumu, Kenya on July 4-6, 2002.

The meeting, entitled "A Herbicide-Resistant Maize Method for Striga Control: A Meeting to Explore the Commercial Possibilities," will demonstrate the results of the new technology in the field, present the current status of this herbicide-resistant maize technology, assess its commercial and regulatory aspects and evaluate its future. The meeting is designed to expose interested parties in the public and private sectors to a powerful new weapon that could dramatically alleviate the Striga scourge.

At the UN-sponsored World Food Summit in Rome (June 10-13), UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated that as many as 24,000 people a day die of starvation around the world. This devastation is substantially concentrated in Africa. A major contributor to the problem is Striga hermonthica, or witchweed, a parasitic weed that ravages grain crops in several parts of the worldparticularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where the weed infests approximately 20 to 40 million hectares of farmland cultivated by poor farmers and is responsible for lost yields valued at approximately $1 billion annually. An estimated 100 million farmers lose from 20 to 80 percent of their yields to this parasite. In Kenya alone it severely infests 150,000 hectares of land (76 percent of the farmland in Western Kenya), causing an estimated annual crop loss valued at $38 million.

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Contact: Jeffrey J. Sussman
jeffrey@acwis.org
212-895-7951
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science
1-Jul-2002


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