ICRISAT, Eagle Genomics partner on food security

Expected to deliver nature-based solutions

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ICRISAT
Anthony Finbow, Chief Executive Officer, Eagle Genomics; and Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT.

A new cooperation framework has been signed between the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Eagle Genomics at the International Conference on Innovations to Transform Drylands to accelerate microbiome-based solutions to drive global climate resilience, sustainable food systems and improved nutrition.

Director general of ICRISAT Jacqueline Hughes and Eagle Genomics CEO Anthony Finbow signed the agreement overseen by an international gathering of some of the world’s foremost dryland agrifood system experts. 

The MOU will see leading organizations – Eagle Genomics, the pioneering UK-based TechBio platform business applying network science to biology and ICRISAT, an India-headquartered international non-profit organization that undertakes scientific research for development – collaborate at the intersection of life science and data science to help solve urgent global challenges in food security, nutrition, and agriculture. 

Eagle Genomics CEO, Anthony Finbow, said the collaboration with ICRISAT was a natural fit given the innovative and purpose-driven nature of both organizations, to improve the lives of those suffering from hunger and malnutrition. 

Safe and nutritious food for all

There is a growing awareness that malnutrition cannot be solved without a robust understanding of the role of the microbiome both in enhancing resilience to climate change but also in enhancing nutrient absorption. This includes ensuring access to safe and healthy food and targeting novel microbial-based solutions to improve nutrition, enhance wellness and reduce disease. ​

The e[datascientist] is a platform powered by network science and multilayer hypergraphs, applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide a data-driven insight journey into solving complex problems and delivering greater impact in climate resilience, improving plant nutrient density, and increasing data-driven wellness and human health outcomes.

The platform integrates active learning at every step of the microbiome innovation journey, from characterizing and describing microbiomes, to a better understanding of complex causal mechanisms to elucidating host-microbiome interactions.

Eagle Genomics is reinventing life sciences research and development by bridging the ‘translation gap,’ enabling scientific knowledge from a range of disparate sources and data sets to be integrated and analyzed through the e[datascientist] platform to create novel hypotheses and deliver robust, scientifically underpinned practical solutions.

We are energized to partner with ICRISAT, which has over half a century of experience in improving dryland agri-food systems across the poorest communities of the world from which we can draw valuable data and explore the pressing questions of our time that remain unanswered.

This promises enormous consequences for both public policies to incentivize private sector investment in new initiatives, and measures to address global challenges, both good for humanity and a corporation’s bottom line.

Just as the digital revolution has brought new opportunities and improved our world, so can the Bio Revolution – towards which we are working with ICRISAT alongside other partners,” said Anthony Finbow.

Sharing knowledge

Jacqueline Hughes said the MOU would see ICRISAT share datasets with Eagle Genomics, drawing upon extensive on-the-ground experience in Asia and Africa that had led to several agricultural world firsts. These include developing early maturing groundnut as well as high iron biofortified pearl millet, innovations that have directly responded to the challenges posed by climate change. This new partnership offers an opportunity to address, and even leapfrog beyond, the Sustainable Development Goals to drive science-based targets for regenerative agriculture.

The efficacy of our interventions both past and emerging and on which some 2.2. billion people depend, will increasingly depend on informed data-driven decisions in an increasingly complex world.

“This partnership will advance an understanding of microbiome interactions – from soil, to plant, to farm, to fork, to gut, to health, and their relationship with our food system and offer new approaches to sequester carbon efficiently, enhance nitrogen and phosphate availability for plants, reduce soil erosion and flooding and improve crop and community resilience to climate change and climatic events.

“Increasing the nutrient density in our food through enhancement of the microbiomes will help ensure ICRISAT’s mandate crops can address food security and malnutrition, in populations living in drought-prone dryland areas.

I am delighted that our collaboration with Eagle Genomics and the strength they bring to our high-caliber partnerships will advance our mission of reducing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition for the world’s poor,” said Dr Hughes.

At the conclusion of the signing, ICRISAT and Eagle Genomics applauded the Innovations for Drylands Conference. They said the MOU would help underpin next-generation innovation to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of the over two billion people living in the drylands of Asia, Africa, and beyond.

It will contribute to safe and nutritious food for all, through a shift to sustainable consumption and nature-positive production systems that can drive One Health outcomes for humans, animals, and the environment. 

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