The parent company of Iowa-based Pioneer Hi-Bred International is putting one-million dollars toward what’s called the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Pioneer spokeswoman Courtney Chabot Dreyer says DuPont’s pledge will ensure the long-term funding of gene banks and crop diversity collections around the world. Chabot Dreyer says hundreds of gene banks around the world are in operation as storehouses for various nations’ native grasses, grains and other plants.She says it’s very important that crops are collected, especially those that aren’t economically-strong like corn, soybeans and wheat, so if there’s warfare or severe weather that destroys them, the crops can be grown and restored using the seed. Chabot Dreyer says the trust was formed in 2002 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. It’s charged with raising a 260-million-dollar endowment to maintain the world’s numerous seed collections. A key objective is to encourage crop research and to assure an abundant, affordable food supply. She says each gene bank is of critical importance to its region. Chabot Dreyer says it’s very expensive to operate a gene bank because people have to go out and do continuous collections, there has to be refrigeration and electricity to keep the seeds viable, and the seeds have to be routinely grown out into new crops. She says there are other reasons the gene banks are so costly to maintain. Some of the staff members need to be beekeepers too because when the crops or plants are grown out, the insects need to be brought in to do the pollination. She says DuPont’s gift will be allocated in equal installments, beginning in 2004 through 2007, to improve plant genetic storage facilities, increase staffing, build capacity, and support the basic costs of conservation. Pioneer, based in Johnston, is the world’s largest seed company. The World Resources Institute predicts that by 2050, the world’s population will reach 9 billion — increasing by an estimated 80 million people per year — with 98-percent of the projected growth occurring in developing countries. In order to produce enough food to feed these inhabitants, food outputs must roughly double within the next 50 years. For more details, surf to “”.