Q: What role does agriculture play in poverty alleviation?
The overarching incentive for CIMMYT’s work was defined by the late CIMMYT wheat breeder and Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, who famously said: “I cannot sit idly by in the midst of abject poverty and hunger and human misery.” Almost one billion people go hungry globally, and agriculture plays a significant role in establishing food security. Market forces, foreign policy, political will, climate instability also have a profound impact on food security and can neutralize CIMMYT’s efforts.
Q: Is there a difference between hybridized and genetically modified crops?
A: In the case of wheat, no genetically modified (GM) or hybrid varieties have yet been made available to farmers. All commercialized GM maize varieties worldwide are hybrids.
Open-pollinated maize varieties (OPVs) are populations of maize whose traits—grain color and type, height, growth cycle, etc.—have been somewhat standardized through selection, either by farmers or breeders, but which are still genetically very diverse. Farmers can save OPV seed and re-sow it the following crop season without losing much yield or other valuable traits that the variety may have.
Hybrid maize is produced by cross-pollinating two inbred lines, normally from unrelated parent populations. This typically results in plants of high uniformity, vigor, and yields. First developed in the USA in the early 20th Century, hybrids were quickly adopted by farmers and are now the only type of maize grown in industrialized countries and are also widely-sown in many developing countries. To get the full advantages of hybrid maize, farmers normally need to buy fresh seed each crop cycle.
Genetically modified maize plants have had a specific gene inserted into their genome and activated. Typically, the genes come from organisms — other plants species or microbes — with which maize would not be able to cross-pollinate.
An OPV or a hybrid maize variety may be genetically modified or not.
Q: What does sustainable agriculture mean to CIMMYT?
A: Enhanced agricultural productivity must be pursued in the context of pressing global issues, including fossil fuel dependence, soil and atmospheric degradation, climate change, disease and pest epidemics. CIMMYT takes these factors into consideration for all projects.
Q: What role do genetically modified crops play at CIMMYT?
A: Genetically modified (GM) crops can play a major role in increasing the productivity of global agriculture, helping farmers to meet the food, feed, and other demands of a rapidly rising world population, while saving water and forest lands. The use of GM crops for nearly two decades has consistently increased harvests, saved farmers money, and reduced the use of pesticides. First generation GM crops featured input-conserving traits, like insect resistance and herbicide tolerance. New GM crop varieties in the pipeline will offer traits such as drought and heat tolerance and improved nutritional quality, healthier food, and nutrient use efficiency. CIMMYT recognizes and respects the sovereignty of individual nations to determine if, when, and how, GM crops will be used in their territory, and provides technical support as requested in this process.
Q: Can global food security be achieved without GM crops?
A: The scale of agricultural productivity required to achieve food security will not come solely from genetic modification technologies. Conventional but novel research programs—far and away the most significant source of gains in food crop yields worldwide—as well as improved farming techniques, training, improved local markets, better storage facilities, effective supply chains, and favorable agricultural policies are crucial. However, for the world to increase agricultural production by almost 2 percent a year by 2050 to achieve food security, GM technologies have a role to play.
Q: What amenities and services are offered for CIMMYT staff and visitors?
A: The CIMMYT campus offers a wide range of activities and amenities for its staff and visitors, including sports courts, a quarter size Olympic pool, about 125 temporary accommodation units, a large dining hall that operates 200 days a year (three times a day), some 15 large meeting rooms and conference venues encompassing two large auditoriums, a social events hall called the “Rincón Mexicano.” The campus offers housing for about 20 permanent residents.
Q: How can I submit an application to work at CIMMYT?
A: Candidates interested in working at CIMMYT should and consult currently open jobs listings on the website. Some jobs are open for nationals of the countries where the positions are based (as a result of legal and benefits conditions associated with the position); these positions start with a letter in the reference number. Other positions are accessible by candidates from around the world; these start with a number or the letter “c”. Please note that we process applications that clearly indicate a specific position of interest (including the position reference number included in our website), and which are accompanied with a detailed CV and letter of expression of interest (cover letter). The announcements note the email address to which applications should be sent. Please send the application to only that email address.