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Foundation grants first fellowships in organic plant breeding in U.S.

February 13, 2012 | 11:33 am

Tomatoes 600

Clif Bar Family Foundation has recently awarded the first fellowships in organic plant breeding in the United States.

The fellowships are funded through the foundation's initiative Seed Matters, which advocates the development and protection of organic seed systems. Those awarded fellowships will work to breed seeds that thrive in environments with greater variability and different ecological-agronomic conditions so farmers don't have to retreat to pesticides and other non-organic solutions for farming.

Professors and leaders in organic seed research overseeing the program include Stephen Jones at Washington State University, a plant breeder and the director of the Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center; Kevin Murphy at Washington State University, assistant professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences as well as a barley and alternative crops breeder; and William Tracy at University of Wisconsin-Madison, professor of agronomy and interim dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

So far $375,000 in grants have been issued to fund three PhD fellowship students for five years in organic plant breeding at two land grant universities — Washington State University and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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— Caitlin Keller

Top photo: Heirloom tomatoes. Credit: David Karp / Los Angeles Times

Bottom photo: Dr. Kevin Murphy, right. Credit: Micaela Colley / Organic Seed Alliance

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