For enhancing the global food and nutrition security for the 3.5 billion people who depend on rice for more than 20 percent of their daily calories, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and 2Blades Foundation have signed an agreement. The innovative licensing agreement will enable IRRI to access leading-edge gene-editing technology, known as Transcription Activator Like (TAL) effector Code and apply it to targets in rice genomes to increase micronutrient content in polished rice, particularly iron and zinc. Access to the TAL Code technology will enable IRRI to accelerate its on-going research into high-iron/ high-zinc rice varieties and actively advance viable, rice sector-based solutions to global food and nutrition security issues, including making improved rice varieties available more quickly to smallholder rice farmers. The agreement will positively impact a number of advanced breeding projects currently underway at IRRI.
Globally more than 1.6 billion people are anemic and iron deficiency anemia (IDA) accounts for around half of the world’s anemia burden. IDA can affect productivity and cause serious health consequences, including impaired cognitive development in children, a weakened immune system, and increased risk of morbidity. By the same token, zinc deficiency is a major cause of stunting among children, affecting about 165 million children under the age of five who are at risk of compromised cognitive development and physical capability.
Jackie Hughes, Deputy Director General of IRRI appreciating the agreement said, “This is a significant step forward for our research teams and we especially appreciate the willingness of 2Blades to offer IRRI a clear Intellectual Property position that will allow maximum impact. IRRI is committed to the global eradication of hunger through scientific advancements. Agreements, such as this, enable our scientists to harness the full power of technology innovations to advance the human condition.” Reciprocating the views, President, Director Dr. Diana Horvath of 2Blades foundation too expressed her appreciation of the agreement saying that, “2Blades and IRRI have a shared commitment to improving global food and nutrition security by advancing genetic improvements in crops. IRRI has a strong record in delivering improved rice varieties to benefit farmers, and we’re delighted to facilitate IRRI’s expansion of their breeding tools to include this powerful gene-editing technology.”