Rescue right on Kew

21.02.33: MAIZE ON DISPLAY at the Kew Gardens botanical museum could help end the famine in Somalia that has killed millions.

'We have been running tests on all our East African samples,' said Dorothy Proudfoot, the curator. 'We found one collected during a 1925 expedition that looks as though it has the right gene sequence.'

The Somali maize crop failed last year when a genetically engineered strain proved helpless against a particularly virulent form of mite.

'Initially the maize strain was a success,' Proudfoot said. 'Not only did it fight off pests but it had added protein genes, so it was more nutritious.' Maize production soared and large numbers of refugees from neighbouring war-torn countries came to depend on it. JB

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