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First international meeting of the GRI

The First International Workshop of the Global Rust Initiative (GRI), 9-11 October, ended in Alexandria, Egypt, with agreement that a tremendous coordinated effort is needed to combat the resurgence of wheat stem rust, a fungal disease that could place the entire world’s wheat production in serious jeopardy.

Ismail Serageldin, Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and former Chairman of the CGIAR, made the library’s conference facilities available to the workshop. Fifty-six participants from 21 countries attended the three-day consultation to exchange research results to date and map out priority areas for the GRI activities.

“This is a global threat, and no single country can provide a solution; only by working together can we tackle it,” CIMMYT Director General Masa Iwanaga told the meeting.

“We have the world’s leading rust scientists here saying that we have a potentially explosive situation on our hands,” said the GRI Coordinator, CIMMYT wheat scientist Rick Ward. “And we basically have to replace all the wheat in the world.” “The caliber of scientists present and the terrific sense of urgency enabled us to address a great array of critical issues during the workshop. I believe all participants felt the event was a success,” said Ward.