Truro-based Performance Genomics Inc. (PGI) is developing technology to improve the health, longevity and productivity of livestock. With investment from the province, the company plans to further develop and take it to the marketplace. “PGI’s technology has the potential to reduce costs and improve profitably for farmers around the world,” said Lenore Zann, MLA for Truro-Bible Hill, on behalf of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Graham Steele. “This investment is a perfect fit with the innovation and competitiveness priorities of our jobsHere plan to grow the economy.” PGI secured a $250,000 equity investment from Innovacorp, Nova Scotia’s early stage venture capital organization. The investment is part of financing that includes $50,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s Productivity and Business Skills Program, and up to $133,000 from the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program. “Performance Genomics is working through innovation to create jobs, growth and prosperity in Nova Scotia, and the government of Canada is fully behind these efforts,” said MP Scott Armstrong, on behalf of Minister of State for ACOA Rob Moore. “This investment will help us reach our goal of entering the marketplace in 2015,” said Michael Dennis, CEO of PGI. “Working with our university and industry partners, we plan to complete the development of our first product for cattle, and to explore additional applications for our technology.” PGI identifies genes that control reproductive performance in mammals. It is developing genomics tests to predict how long livestock will stay fertile, which farmers can use for selective breeding. The company is focusing on dairy cows, but the technology can be used for other animals. PGI was spun out of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in the late 1990s. The technology is based on more than two decades of research on mice and the company is collaborating with researchers at Dalhousie University and has partnered with a global animal health firm for the livestock market. The three-person PGI team is based at the Perennia Innovation Centre in Truro. “PGI is striving to solve a real problem impacting farmers in Nova Scotia and beyond,” said Stephen Duff, president and CEO of Innovacorp. “The company has clearly established a near-term path to market now, and we’re pleased to be part of their growth story.”
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that amid the ongoing crisis in Burundi, children are at risk, especially those who have been exposed to violent clashes and demonstrations along with the more than 60,000 refugees who had fled to neighbouring countries.“Prolonged insecurity was likely to have a massive impact on an already vulnerable population,” said UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac told the UN press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.At the same briefing, the World Food Programme (WFP) spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs, said the agency is concerned that the political instability in Burundi could lead to a humanitarian crisis. “It was also affecting food security inside Burundi, which is already one of the poorest and most food insecure countries on earth,” Ms. Byrs said. In the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, Said Djinnit, UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and facilitator of the political dialogue, today called on all Burundian parties to exercise restraint and to refrain from any action that could generate violence and increase tensions.“Despite persisting divergences on the core issue of the presidential term,” he said, “the parties agreed to pursue their dialogue and have exchanged views on confidence building measures and mutual commitments regarding the management of the electoral calendar, guarantees and measures for the holding of free, transparent, inclusive and peaceful elections, and Constitutional political rights and freedoms.”Mr. Djinnit spoke to reporters today before travelling to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, to participate in the East African Community Summit on Sunday. The envoy said he hopes the summit will provide further guidance and impetus to reinforce the Burundian dialogue, and called on all Burundian parties to exercise restraint and to refrain from any action that could generate violence and increase tension.Meanwhile, in Geneva, UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac said that since the start of the crisis five children had been killed by bullet wounds, including one just yesterday morning, and 200 children had been injured since the start of the street protests in and around Bujumbura on 26 April.He also expressed concern over cases of the unlawful detention of children in prisons and said that UNICEF was working with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to identify children who may have been arbitrarily arrested and unlawfully detained in Bujumbura prisons in an effort to secure their release and reunite them with their families.WFP spokesperson Byrs said her agency was providing food assistance to more than 60,000 Burundian refugees who fled to Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.