The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center’s Institute for International Crop Improvement(IICI), has been established to expand research efforts, trait improvements, product development and biosafety to include a greater range of food security crops. The overall aim of the IICI is to bring improved crops that yield more per acre, are richer in essential nutrients and resistant to disease, insects and drought to small farmers in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

In addition, the Biosafety Resource Network (BRN) which was founded in 2009 and provides support to projects at the Danforth Center, will serve as a key resource of the IICI. In this expanded role, the BRN will provide support for projects to improve staple crops inside and outside the Danforth Center as well as those that go beyond the central theme of “food security” such as to reduce the spread of malaria or develop microbial regulators of plant growth.

The IICI, directed by Paul Anderson, Ph.D., will expand and assist partnerships to focus on staple crops, such as sweet potato, banana, cassava, sorghum, maize, rice, groundnuts, millet and cowpea that are typically not the focus of commercial entities but are extremely important to the livelihood of subsistence farmers. Anderson and his proficient team will also provide advice and oversight to assist other institutions who are working to through the process of field trials and safety testing necessary to bring products to the farmer’s field.

“The Institute is an applied product development arm of the Danforth Center. This is where plant technology developed at the Center and by other institutions can be translated into crop improvements that are safe and effective and can be delivered to where it is needed most. This makes the Center unique among institutions of its kind,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s team has more than 100 years of combined experience in applied plant science, crop improvement, product development and international collaboration. This expertise will be employed to guide projects through the complicated and technical process of bringing new agricultural products to market. Capabilities include planning and coordination, field testing, regulatory strategy development and biosafety communications, technical analysis and nutritional evaluation.