New Fast Company: Rust Never Sleeps
Ug99 is a scary fungus that could DESTROY THE WORLD... well, actually, could devastate global wheat crops, which is a pretty fair approximation if you dislike famine. It started in Uganda in 1999 (hence Ug 99), but is now being found in Afghanistan and Pakistan, on its way to India and China.
So here's where Bill Gates steps in.
In 2008, the Gates Foundation donated $26.8 million dollars to the Durable Rust Resistance project, a multinational effort to track the spread of stem rust, and to quickly develop resistant strains of wheat. Cornell University coordinates these efforts, and the project is now starting to see results. Earlier this year, researchers found a gene complex that seems to kill Ug99.
If Bill Gates manages to head off global famine for what amounts to pocket change (for him), all is forgiven.