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WRAL RV - Raleigh, NC, reports:

Research Triangle Park, NC - Leaders of a major agriculture research center in the RTP broke ground on a new $18 million dollar facility with a goal of increasing the world's food supply.

Researchers hope to learn more about the insect pests that destroy crops.

The new Insectary is touted as a world-class facility that will drive future pest-control research in North Carolina and around the world.

Ian Jepson, the RTP site business head for Syngenta described the strategy as, "Allowing our scientists to study economically important insect species from around the world in a controlled and safe manner."

Crop loss due to insect pests is nothing new but, now the stakes may be even higher, said Gusui Wu, Syngenta's head of research.

"We have food security issues, supply chain issues and many challenges caused by climate change," he said.

The goals are aimed at helping farmers feed the world.

"Maybe 20% of the crop is lost because of diseases or insects and being able to control the insect will increase yield, increase productivity of the crops," Wu said.

Wu said losing staple crops like corn due to pests and disease means a loss of more than $70 billion every year in the world economy. Syngenta's research leaders believe the solutions will be found in their new Insectary by those who will conduct the research.

"We believe it marks the turning point for plant science research here in North Carolina," said NC State University's executive director of NC Plant Sciences Adrian Percy. "I believe it's because of this incredible net worth of North Carolina, it will change the future of agriculture."

Syngenta RTP leaders say their center is already one of the largest and most technologically advanced agricultural research centers in the world.

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