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SCIENCE & POLICY: Arcadia Biosciences and African Agricultural Technology Foundation enter into agreement for development of improved Afrian rice

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: African Agricultural Technology Foundation, Kenya

AUTHOR: Press Release


DATE:   10.12.2008

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-- Agreement to Build Upon Existing Compensation-Free License Agreement for Nitrogen Use Efficient and Salt-Tolerant Rice By Engaging in Critical Development Activities --

DAVIS, Calif. and Nairobi, Kenya (December 10, 2008) ? Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., an agricultural technology company focused on products that benefit the environment and human health, and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), a not-for-profit organization focused on the access and delivery of new agricultural technologies for African smallholder farmers, today announced an agreement in which Arcadia will perform technology development activities for Nitrogen Use Efficient and Salt-Tolerant African rice.

In April 2008, Arcadia provided a compensation-free technology license to AATF for the development of improved rice varieties, which AATF will offer to smallholder African farmers royalty-free. This new agreement expands the relationship between the organizations and will expedite the development of the crop technologies for a world region that is struggling to feed its people.

Under the agreement, Arcadia will perform plant transformation, greenhouse trials and field trials in the United States, and will work alongside AATF-contracted researchers in Africa to facilitate a rapid technology transfer process.

?Arcadia has proven its ability to develop Nitrogen Use Efficient and Salt-Tolerant crop varieties that perform exceptionally well in the field. They have the expertise, resources and experience with these important traits that can speed the development of improved African rice and get them into the hands of the region?s farmers who need them,? said Jennifer Thomson, interim executive director of AATF. ?Expanding our relationship with Arcadia from a license provider to a full development partner is an excellent example of how public-private sector relationships can have positive and far-reaching effects on African food security.?

Rice is one of the most cultivated and important African food crops. Rice consumption on the African continent is growing by 6 percent annually and has created an annual shortage of 6.5 million metric tons, which is imported at an annual cost of about $1.7 billion. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa produce between 12 and 17 million metric tons of rice annually. Most of this rice is produced and consumed by small-scale farmers who are often constrained by the cost and availability of new technologies that could help them increase food output. Low soil nutrient content and saltimpacted soils have lead to a decline in crop yields, according to a 2006 African Fertilizer Summit report. Availability of NUE and Salt-Tolerant rice can help alleviate these agricultural pressures on African farmers and can minimize the Continent?s dependency on food imports. At the same time, Arcadia?s Salt-Tolerance technology can reduce t
 he amount of fresh water needed to grow crops, and its NUE technology can mitigate the potential for the increase in greenhouse gas emissions that accompany the use of nitrogen fertilizer.

?Improving food security in the developing world in an environmentally sustainable way is one of our founding principles. Climatic conditions, population growth and the lack of new technologies on the African continent have created significant challenges in the ability of African farmers to feed its people. Depleted soil nutrients and salt-impacted soils are two factors contributing to these challenges. As more time passes, the problem exacerbates exponentially,? said Eric Rey, president and CEO of Arcadia. ?The AATF?s mission of bringing new agricultural technologies to the African continent is directly aligned with our philosophies. By driving development of NUE and Salt-Tolerant rice we can do our part to improve African food security in a way that helps protect the environment.?

About Arcadia Biosciences, Inc.

Based in Davis, Calif., with additional facilities in Seattle, Wash. and Phoenix, Ariz., Arcadia Biosciences is an agricultural biotechnology company focused on the development of agricultural products that improve the environment and enhance human health. For more information visit

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) is an African-led charity designed to facilitate and promote public/private partnerships for the access and delivery of appropriate proprietary technologies with potential to increase the productivity of resource-poor smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. (

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: African Agricultural Technology Foundation, Kenya

AUTHOR: Press Release


DATE:   25.09.2008

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Prof Jennifer Thomson has been named Interim Executive Director by the AATF Board of Trustees following the departure of the Executive Director, Dr Mpoko Bokanga.

Prof Thomson, who has been the Chair of the Board since 2004, took office on 22 September 2008 and has subsequently stepped down to take up the executive position at the Foundation?s headquarters in Nairobi while the Board searches for a suitable candidate. The Deputy Chair of the Board, Prof Walter S Alhassan, has assumed the position of Acting Chair awaiting endorsement by the Board in November 2008.

Dr Bokanga leaves after serving in the position for four years. As the AATF?s first Executive Director, Dr Bokanga played an important role in AATF?s growth into a respected African organisation with a project portfolio spanning several countries and involving a wide range of partners both in and outside Africa.

The Board has commenced a search for a suitable candidate for the position. Once the position is filled, Prof Thomson will hand over to the new Executive Director in order to continue with her research at the University of Cape Town where she is working on the development of maize resistant to the African endemic maize streak virus (MSV) and tolerant to drought that is showing great promise in glasshouse trials.

Prof Thomson has a wealth of experience in research. A recipient of the L?Oreal/UNESCO prize for Women in Science and an honorary doctorate from the Sorbonne in Paris, she is Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at University of Cape Town (UCT). Her main current research interests are in the development of maize resistant to the African endemic maize streak virus (MSV) and tolerant to drought. She is a regular writer and speaker internationally on the subject of genetically modified organisms, especially crops and foods derived from them. She has addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos for two successive years, and the United Nations as the guest of Secretary General Kofi Annan. She has written two books ? Genes for Africa and Seeds for the Future ? both geared towards public education on biotechnology.

Prof Thomson holds a BSc in Zoology from the University of Cape Town, an MA in Genetics from Cambridge University and a PhD in Microbiology from Rhodes University in South Africa. She was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School and spent a sabbatical year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was a lecturer, senior lecturer and Associate Professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa before starting and being the Director of the Laboratory for Molecular and Cell Biology for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. 

Other positions held in the past include the Deputy Dean of Science at UCT, chair and member of the South African Genetic Engineering Committee, co-founder and chair of SA Women in Science and Engineering, and Vice-President of the SA Academy of Science. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and of UCT. She is a member of the board of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA) and the European Action Group on Life Sciences (EAGLES). She chairs South Africa?s National Biotechnology Advisory Committee.



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