Texas and Israel
Trade and Population Statistics
|Exports to Israel (2014)
| Percentage Change (2013-2014)
| Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)
|Israel's Trade Partner Rank (2014)
|Military Contracts with Israel (2012)
|Jewish Population (2014)
| Jewish Percentage of Population
foundation grants shared by Texas and Israel
Grant recipients in
Texas from U.S.-Israel binational foundations:
Baylor Medical School
BMC Software, Inc.
East Texas State University
Exon Research & Engineering Corp.
G.B.I. International Inc.
Graphic Science Corp.
Harris Adacom Corp.
Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M Research Foundation
Texas A&M University
Texas Agricultural Experiment Station
Texas Agricultural Research & Extension Station
Texas Tech University
Texas Tech Medical School
Tracor Aerospace Inc.
University of Houston
University of Texas
University of Texas Medical Branch
University of Texas Health Science Center
University of Texas SW Medical Branch
University of Texas Medical School
USDA Cropping Systems Research Lab
Wynn's Climate Sys. Inc.
of Commerce -
The TICC is
a private, not-for-profit business organization whose aim is to boost
the economies of Texas and Israel by helping member companies develop
important business relationships with each other and explore new market
opportunities. The Chamber is strongly supported by Governor Rick Perry
of Texas as well as by Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade, and
Labor because both parties believe there are many opportunities for
collaboration, especially in high tech industries. Read more about the
mission, programs and members of the TICC, CLICK
Texas-Israel Exchange Program
Perhaps the oldest state
to state relationship is the Texas-Israel Exchange (TIE), which was
created in 1984 to promote mutually beneficial agriculture projects.
The agreement was reaffirmed by a new Memorandum of Intent in 1992 by Texas Agriculture
Commissioner Rick Perry.
In 1994, another agreement was negotiated to create the TIE Fund to
support joint agricultural research and development, and foster the
expansion of trade. The Texas Legislature enacted legislation providing
up to $250,000 for the TIE Fund and Israel agreed to contribute an equal
amount. The program was recently extended in government funding till
the end of 2011. Learn more about the TIE, CLICK
Founded by joint collaboration from the Texas
Department of Agriculture and the Texas-Israel Exchange, Texas-BARD
is an offshoot of the Binational Agricultural Research and Development
Fund that looks to exclusively develop solutions to mutual agricultural
problems that will in turn foster the development of trade, mutual assistance,
and business relations between Texas and Israel. Read more about Texas-BARD, CLICK
Agreements - "Memoranda of Understanding"
In December 2010, the University of
Texas Southwestern Medical Center entered into a cooperative, five-year
agreement with the Rabin Medical Center in Israel to collaborate on
faculty and student exchange programs, as well as the development of
joint studies, research and training activities, and other educational
programs of mutual interest. “This agreement between UT Southwestern
at Dallas and Rabin Medical Center in Israel represents an exciting
new era of cooperation, research and teaching for both of our institutions
and our two countries,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, president
of UT Southwestern Medical Center. Read more about the collaboration, CLICK
In 2002, an MOU was signed to foster
collaborative practical and applied research between agricultural scientists
areas of high priority to both Texas and Israel.
In 1992, A Memorandum of Intent was
signed between the two governments with a focus to broaden the Texas-Israel
SemiArid Fund (see 1985), encourage greater participation and to prove,
through applied research, that the similarities in agriculture between
Texas and Israel can be a lesson for both partners.
In 1985, the Texas-Israel Semi-Arid
partnership was created after the signing of a memorandum of understanding
between the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of Agriculture
of the State of Israel to work together on projects of mutual agricultural
benefit to the peoples of Israel and Texas. The MOA stated there was
considerable potential to work together on projects related to energy,
trade, marketing and processing, crop development, water use and conservation,
research, and joint adventures.
Texas Government Missions to Israel
October 2013 - Governor Rick Perry [R] visited Israel and met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres. The trip, which many oberservers thought was in the context of his potential 2016 bid for Republican presidential nomination, was mostly about Texas-Israel economic development. During the trip Perry attended a water technology conference and at the announcement of Texas A&M Peace University in Nazareth. To learn more, CLICK HERE.
January 2013 - Senator Ted Cruz [R] joined a delegation of senators in a visit to Afghanistan and Israel, where they met with military officials to discuss the political, economic and security issues affecting bilateral and regional relations. In Israel, the senators met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
November 2011 - Houston Mayor Annise
Parker traveled to Israel with the American Jewish Comittee (AJC) and
four other major U.S. city mayors as part of Project Interchange, and
AJC-run educational institute.
August 2011 - Congresswoman Kay Granger
traveled to Israel and the West Bank to learn more about regional politics
as well as the American-Israeli relationship.
August 2009 - Governor Rick Perry
received the Defender of Jerusalem award, which is given to public figures
who have demonstrated support and commitment to the state of Israel
and its capitol, while on a trip to Israel. While there Gov Perry also
met with high ranking Israeli government officials including Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. “I have long supported
the right of a Jewish state to exist in the Middle East and firmly believe
in the protection and preservation of democratic states in that part
of the world,” Gov. Perry said. Read more about Gov Perry and
the award, CLICK
June 2007 - Governor Perry travelled
to Israel, met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and received the "Friend
of Zion" award from the Israeli government. While there, Gov. Perry
met with multiple Israeli businesspeople interested in expanding into
Texas and also announced his campaign to lead Texas companies in divestment
from Iran and Sudan. His trip and meetings eventually led to his sponsorship
and founding of the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce.
July 2003 - US Representative Tom
Delay led a mission to Israel and spoke about the prospects for peace
and possible peace initiatives in front of the Israeli parliament, the
Knesset. In his speech, Delay echoed his outspoken opinions against
land concessions and Israeli MK Aryeh Eldad commented afterwards that
the speech would have made Delay the most conservative member of Israel's
The U.S.-Israel relationship is based on the twin
pillars of shared values and mutual interests. Given this commonality of
interests and beliefs, it should not be surprising that support for Israel
is one of the most pronounced and consistent foreign policy values of the
It is more difficult to devise programs that capitalize
on the two nations' shared values than their security interests;
nevertheless, such programs do exist. In fact, these SHARED VALUE
INITIATIVES cover a broad range of areas, including the environment,
science and technology, education and health.
As analyst David Pollock noted, Israel is an advanced country with a population that surpassed eight million people in 2013 and a robust, dynamic economy that allowed it to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Between 2005 and 2013, Israel has represented a larger market for U.S. exports than Saudi Arabia. Although Israel's citizenry make up just 3 percent of the total region's population, Israel accounts for 25 percent of American exports in the Middle East.
"It has also been one of the top 20 foreign direct investors in the United States since 2009," Pollock confirms. He adds that "$2.25 billion of the $3 billion in annual U.S. aid to Israel comes back via Israeli purchases of U.S. military equipment - and that is just 5 percent of the total bilateral trade each year."
Today's interdependent global economy requires that
trade policy be developed at the national and state level.
Many states have recognized the opportunity for realizing
significant benefits by seeking to increase trade with Israel. Texas is one of 33 states that have cooperative
agreements with Israel.
In 2012, Texas exported nearly $1 billion worth
of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Texas exports to
Israel have totaled more than $11.7 billion and Israel now ranks as Texas’s
4th leading trade partner.
Additionally in 2012, Texas received more than
$118 million in foreign military financing (FMF) for US military aid
to Israel. Some of those companies that have received funding through FMF in 2012 or past years
include: Flexible Life Line Systems, Inc based
out of Houston; Worldwide Aerospace, Ltd from Fort Worth; and, Omega
Air, Inc from San Antonio..
Israel is certainly a place where potential business
and trade partners can be found. It can also be a source, however, for
innovative programs and ideas for addressing problems facing the citizens
The Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce has a number of
committees in which bilateral programs for sustainable development and
conservation are created, introduced and marketed. The TICC has committees
that meet regularly and discuss business opportunities in such areas
as cleantech, hi-tech, homeland security and defense, life sciences
and many more.
Israel has also developed a number of pioneering
education programs that have now been implemented across Texas. One, the Home Instruction Program for Preschool
Youngsters, has been praised by President Clinton as the best
preschool program on earth and replicated throughout the country,
including Dallas, El Paso, Austin, Houston, Beaumont and San Antonio.
A range of other exciting approaches to social problems
like unemployment, environmental protection and drug abuse have been
successfully implemented in Israel and could be imported for the benefit
The potential for greater cooperation with Israel for
the benefit of Texas is limited only by the imagination.
Profit From Business With Israel
As the only country with free trade agreements with
both the United States and the European community, Israel can act as
a bridge for international trade between the United States and Europe.
Moreover, because of its deep pool of talent, particularly in high-technology
areas, Israel provides excellent investment opportunities. Some of the
America's largest companies, including IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Intel
and McDonalds, have found that it is indeed profitable to do business
Nearly 300 Texas companies have discovered
the benefits of doing business in Israel, including
Agar Corporation, CompUSA, Compaq Computer Corporation,
Fortune Industries and Bell Helicopters.
ASC Industries has been supplying aircraft parts such
as nuts, bolts and screws to Israel for "at least the past seven
years," according to Brenda Metzner of ASC's sales department.
ASC deals with the Israel Aircraft Industries office in New York,
which then sends the parts to Israel. Metzner remarked that Israel is
a good market. "They are actually easier to deal with than many
other countries because they are not as demanding and always seem to
find their paperwork, as opposed to some other countries we also do
Malcolm Tallmon, president of Fortune Industries, said
that his company has been doing business with Israel for the past 10
to 14 years. In some cases Fortune Industries deals directly with the
Israeli government, although it has also had agreements with private
firms. At one point, the Israeli government had a contract with the
U.S. government and Fortune Industries supplied parts such as aerospace
and military specification fasteners. These items are used to hold together
parts used on airplanes, missiles and ground support equipment.
Bell Helicopters started selling helicopters to Israel
in the 1970s and has been buying electronic components from them since
the 1980s. Currently, Bell is selling commercial helicopters to Israeli
agencies such as police departments. Don Richardson, Director of Procurement
and Subcontract Management for Bell Helicopters, commented, "It's
difficult to get started doing business in Israel, but once you establish
relationships, it gets easier. The Israelis have a reputation for being
tough negotiators, but they're reasonable people to deal with."
One good way to break into the Israeli market is through
a joint venture with an Israeli company. Funding for such projects is
available from the Binational
Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD). BIRD funds projects in 36 states and the District of
Columbia and hundreds of companies including AOL, GE, BP Solar, Texas
Instruments and Johnson & Johnson have benefitted from BIRD grants.
The United States and Israel established BIRD in 1977
to fund joint U.S.-Israeli teams in the development and subsequent commercialization
of innovative, nondefense technological products from which both the
Israeli and American company can expect to derive benefits commensurate
with the investments and risks. Most grant recipients are small businesses
involved with software, instrumentation, communications, medical devices
Since its inception, BIRD has funded more than 800
joint high-tech R&D projects through conditional grants totaling
more than $210 million. Products developed from these ventures have
generated more than $8 billion in direct and indirect revenues for both
countries and has helped to create an estimated 20,000 American jobs.
Dr. Eli Opper, the former Israeli chair of BIRD, has
said that BIRD is a strong pillar of US-Israel industrial
cooperation and that the extreme success of BIRD has
led Israel to adopt similar models of R&D with other countries.
Several Texas companies have benefited from more than
$3.2 million in BIRD grants over the last three decades.
Microdynamics is the leading supplier of advanced integrated
information systems to the worldwide sewn good industry. Microdynamics
collaborated with IET Intelligent Electronics Ltd. of Israel to develop
new products that address the automation of product development and
the pre-production areas that are key components of Quick Response strategies.
Microdynamics considers these products to be crucial in effectively
addressing consumer and marketplace needs. Resulting from grants awarded
in 1992 and 1993 were the GMS 2000, which is a system for maximization
of fabric usage in the sewn-goods industry, and the W-6 scheduling software
for the apparel industry.
Agar Corporation, manufacturer of industrial measuring
control instruments, joined with Galram Technologies Ltd. to create
a water/oil instrument.
VTEL Corporation, a teleconferencing service company
located in Austin, joined with Accord Communication Ltd. in Israel to
create MCU enhancements.
Motorola forged a partnership with the Israeli company
Optibase Advanced Systems Ltd. in 1992 and developed a method of image
compression and processing for a multimedia chip set.
In 1998, Motorola received another BIRD grant and used it to collaborate with KLA-Tencor Corporation. The organizations
worked on an integrated system in-chip implementation of a flash disk
Harris Adacom Corporation received three BIRD grants in 1988, 1990 and 1991 to create three different products with
Adacom Technology Ltd. of Israel. Resulting from these grants were the
LG-708, Coax Net and Coax Net Phase III.
Texas researchers are making scientific breakthroughs
and developing cutting-edge technologies in joint projects with Israeli
scientists thanks to support from the Binational
Science Foundation (BSF). BSF was established in 1972 to promote scientific relations
and cooperation between scientists from the United States and Israel.
The fund supports collaborative research projects in a wide area of
basic and applied scientific field for peaceful and non-profit purposes.
Since its inception, BSF has awarded some $480 million
through more than 4,000 grants in 45 states and the District of Columbia.
BSF-sponsored studies are highly successful
in achieving their two main goals: strengthening the US-Israel partnership
through science and promoting world-class scientific research for the
benefit of the two countries and all mankind. The BSF grants help extend research resources to achieve milestones that might
not otherwise be attainable; introduce novel approaches and techniques
to lead American researchers in new directions; confirm, clarify and
intensify research projects; and provide unmatched access to Israeli
equipment, facilities and research results that help speed American
scientific advances. BSF has documented no less than
75 new discoveries made possible by its research grants and counts 37
Nobel Prize and 19 Lasker Medical Award laureates among its joint partners.
The University of Texas SW Medical Center, University
of Texas, University of Houston, Texas Tech, Rice, Texas A&M and
Baylor Medical School are among the Texas institutions that have shared
nearly $7.3 million with counterparts in Israel through grants awarded
by BSF since 1996 alone.
With BSF support, Prof. Hermona Soreq
of Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Prof. James Patrick of the Baylor
College of Medicine have pioneered diverse molecular medicine approaches
for exploring the mechanism underlying stress-associated diseases, and
have developed innovative strategies for alleviating the consequences
of traumatic experiences or chemical stresses. Based on these discoveries,
Pharmathene Inc., a U.S.-based start-up company, produces Cholinesterase
proteins in goats, which hold promise to become novel protection agents
against chemical warfare, insecticide poisoning and for treatment of
Alzheimer’s Disease. Prof. Patrick and Soreq's joint, BSF sponsored research has also led to the development of Monarsen, an FDA-approved
orphan drug for the treatment of the autoimmune disease Myasthenia Gravis.
It is presently in phase II of clinical studies, and is the focus of
a current BSF grant to Prof. Soreq and Prof. Alan Gewirtz (University
This BSF grant was initially awarded
to the team of scientists in 1997, though Prof.'s Patrick and Sereq
have known each other for 20 years. BSF helps
to maintain better interactions between Baylor and labs in Israel,
said Patrick. He added, Israel is a little isolated and not necessarily
on the normal route of travel when we lecture in Europe so this grant
provides for real contacts and travel costs.
University of Houston chemist Wayne Rabalais has received
several BSF grants. In 1996, he was awarded one to
study ion beam deposition of film with Yishael Lifshitz of the Atomic
Energy Commission in Yavne. This is a specialized method of growing
thin microelectronic films used in electronic devices and circuits.
This is just basic research and we really havent gotten
to the point where we make practical applications or devices. The work
we do is then picked up by engineers who make the practical applications,
said Rabalais. I was interested in collaborating with Lifshitz
in Israel and he had a good background and wanted to work with us. He
spent one and a half years working with us in Texas and comes back about
once a year. Rabalais added, We met at a meeting and after
talking saw that we had a common interest and decided to develop a joint
proposal. I have had a very positive experience and think that the collaboration
has helped because we have slightly different expertise so we make different
contributions. There is no doubt that weve accomplished more together
than we would have alone.
In 1978 the United States and Israel jointly created the Binational
Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD)
to help fund programs between US and Israeli scientists for mutually
beneficial, mission-oriented, strategic and applied research into agricultural
problems. Since its inception, BARD has funded more
than 1,000 projects in 45 states and the District of Columbia with a
total investment of more than $250 million. In 2000, an independent
and external economic review of 10 BARD projects conservatively
projected more than $700 million in revenue by the end of 2010, a number
which far outweighs the total investment in all BARD projects over its 33 year existence and helps to continually strengthen
Most BARD projects focus on either increasing agricultural
productivity, plant and animal health or food quality and safety and
have been influential in creating new technologies in drip irrigation,
pesticides, fish farming, livestock, poultry, disease control and farm
equipment. BARD funds projects in 45 states and the
District of Columbia and at present is beginning to administer collaborative
efforts between Australia, Canada and Israel as well. It is difficult
to break down the impact on a state-by-state basis, but overall, BARD-sponsored
research has generated sales of more than $500 million, tax revenues
of more than $100 million and created more than 5,000 American jobs.
Texas institutions have shared BARD grants worth
more than $5.7 million since 1979.
Professor Marty Dickman of Texas A&M University has received a
number of BARD grants to research various subjects
in plant genomics and biotechnology.
For one of his recent BARD grants, Professor Dickman
led a project in the early 2000's together with scientists from the
Volcani Center and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel that
investigated novel approaches to controlling postharvest diseases brought
about by various fungi. The group of scientists revealed that fungus
can alter pH levels in plants, either manking them more acidic (low
pH level) or raising their alkalinity (high pH level) which then can
bring about diseases and ruin the crop after it has already been harvested.
The BARD-sponsored research enabled the group to facilitate
the rapid development, commercialization, and application of new approaches
for reducing such postharvest storage diseases. Read the published scientific
paper on the research HERE;
view online overview of the project and its finding through the BARD website HERE.
In 2007, Professor Dickman received another 3-year BARD grant, this
time to collaborate with scientists at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem
to research the axis that plants use for cellular communication that
regulates development and pathogenicity. Read more about this project
in the scientific report HERE.
Improving soils and enhancing animal reproduction are
just two examples of joint research projects conducted under the auspices
of BARD in Texas.
Seiichi Miyamoto is working to improve the efficiency
of reclaiming sodic soils, those that have too much sodium and salts
that are bad for crop production. This problem is a global one. Almost
one-third of the 240 million hectares of irrigated area in the world
are affected by sodium and salt. Miyamoto and his Israeli collaborator
at the Volcani Center are experimenting with the use of salt and sodium
in vegetation to enhance the process of reclamation. There are conventional
methods that involve the use of large amounts of chemical sodium products
such as calcium chloride and gypsum, but their goal is to develop an
environmentally friendly method. Chemicals used today typically go into
the drain water system, and co-mingle with water used in agriculture.
Miyamoto spoke highly of the BARD program. He said it, " has the unique strength of combining basic
science and the task on hand. It is an accepted mission-oriented program.
As opposed to USDA grants that are mostly for scientific knowledge,
this program uses knowledge to solve real problems. In theory, we can
develop crops to grow in any type of soil. These are meant to be long
term applications. The BARD program is good not just
because of the money, but also because the technology they have in Israel
is essential." Whatever accomplishments come out of this program
can apply to natural resource management in other nations, especially
developing countries. "Israel seems to have a better handle over
solving real problems and, when dealing with developing countries, we
[American scientists] seem to overlook them," Miyamoto added. "The
program has been very successful. We don't want to see this funding
chopped because then it would be a very sad outcome."
Fuller Bazer is a professor of animal sciences at Texas
A&M as well as director of A&M's bioscience and technology center
located at the Texas Medical Center. Along with his Israeli colleagues
Arieh Gertler of Hebrew University and Elisha Gootwine of the Volcani
Center, Bazer is studying reproduction in sheep and applying it to goats
and cattle. He is trying to understand how to increase reproductive
efficiency and decrease embryonic death losses (40% of all embryos die
within the first few weeks after conception). He is specifically trying
to identify genes that will increase the chance of survival for the
embryos. Thus far, Bazer has been successful in his research. "We
have a couple of Israeli graduate students coming to study in our lab
and I'm going to Israel to visit. Part of the [BARD]
scheme is to have interchanges between the two countries. It is also
a mechanism to fund the research done by all three of us," said
Bazer. The outcome of this project will be applicable to the U.S., Israel
and the rest of the world. The principles learned can also be applied
to other livestock species. Bazer added, "This grant has been good.
We've exchanged a lot of reagents and ideas."
Texas A&M Professor of Agricultural Engineering
Steve Searcy has received several BARD grants. One
of the grants was to work with Colman Peleg at the Technion to improve
the inspection of fruits and vegetables and to insure good quality at
a reasonable price. Although this product is not yet commercialized,
it has practical applications. "For example, there are different
kinds of apples and no one system is optimized for all of them. We worked
on a self-adjusting system to recognize different types of apples,"
said Searcy. While the Texas lab experimented on apples, the Israelis
worked on dates. Peleg is an internationally renowned expert in this
field and "the opportunity to work with someone of that stature
is great," said Searcy.
Searcy is also using a BARD grant
to collaborate with scientists at both the Volcani Center and the Migdal
Experimental Station in Israel to reduce nitrogen fertilizer inputs
to minimize pollution of ground and surface water. The team is trying
to find a way to detect the amount of fertilizer that a plant needs
and have that amount released by an applicator, thereby regulating the
amount of nitrogen dispensed in accordance with the amount needed by
Another BARD project Searcy is working
on involves the development of a multi-spectral sensor for assessing
the nutrient status of crops. Conventional agriculture treats the fields
as a single management area, but doesn't account for the variability
of the fields (e.g. slopes, different soils). "We're trying to
help them manage the field on a more individual basis. We are focusing
on corn, but this is applicable to other crops," said Searcy. He
added, "We wouldn't do these projects or work with Israelis without BARD. It is critical for cross-fertilization, which
I think is a good thing."
Pesticides are crucial to modern agriculture, but they
have also caused some rural water resources to become contaminated and
that can lead to crop damage. For example, sorghum, a major field crop
in Texas is sensitive to bromacil and terbacil, common agricultural
herbicides. BARD researchers have developed a new economical
procedure for diminishing water-born pesticides using the sun. In the
laboratory, scientists tested 69 dye sensitizers that can oxidize pesticides
when activated by visible light. They found that these treatments were
harmless and permitted normal germination and seed growth. After these
lab tests, a prototype was created and the goal of removing injected
pesticides by sunlight was successful. In addition, the BARD solar process destroyed 99.9% of bacterial pathogens in the sewage within
BARD grantees have helped pecan growers
all over the American Southwest. After farmers were plagued by the premature
death, stunted growth and low yields of pecan trees, BARD grantees from Texas A&M University and the Israel Agriculture Research
Organization found that the problem was a soil permeability problem
that aggravated the effects of salinity. They developed a series of
computerized models, irrigation schedules and recommendations that will
prevent such problems in the future. They also developed methods to
save the 68,000 acres of pecan trees already planted on inappropriate
soils in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Additionally, they found ways
to use pests such as predatory spiders, wasps and green lacewings to
control other, more harmful predators that can kill trees and crops.
Texas, one of the countrys largest producers
of cotton crop, of which total U.S. production exceeds $5 billion a
year, also benefits from BARD research done outside
of the state. Joint research resulting from a BARD grant has shaped the way cotton is grown today. BARD grantees from Israel and Mississippi developed and tested a computer
model that would reduce the amount of water and fertilizer cotton farmers
need to produce their crops. Their research resulted in an invention
called COTMOD, which describes how water, soil, fertilizer, and farming
practices affect cotton production. The model can also be expanded to
predict the fate of pesticides and environmental contaminations. The
USDA combined this model with two others and provide it free to American
farmers and agricultural consultants. By advising growers, such as those
in Texas, on optimal irrigation and fertilization strategies, the system
can save farmers an average of about $60 per acre, or $48 per bale.
Texas produces over $100 million worth of potatoes
a year. New potato plants are started from the "eyes" of seed
potatoes. This method of reproduction allows for the transmission of
debilitating viral diseases, such as potato leaf-roll virus (PLRV) from
generation to generation, with substantial economic loss. For example,
downgrading U.S. Grade #1 potatoes to U.S. Grade #2 means a loss of
$400-600 per ton to the farmer. Thus, assuring virus-free seed potatoes
is extremely profitable to the industry. BARD grantees
improved techniques for extracting useable virus samples from diseased
plants. The samples were then injected into rabbits and sheep to stimulate
the production of antiviral antibodies. The grantees used their antibodies
to develop a test which could detect different strains. The same method
used in this process is also used in pregnancy test kits. The new test,
both cheaper and more general than its predecessors, is now produced
and distributed free to certain agencies. A diagnostic kit is also sold
commercially to farmers through a U.S. agricultural firm. The rate of
PLRV infections has dropped drastically since the invention of this
new test, thanks to BARD sponsored research.
Texas also produces between $400-$600 million worth
of wheat a year. BARD scientists have discovered a
double stranded RNA virus, which may cause the fungus disease Rhizoctonias
solani, which causes the death of young plants, to spread. Researchers
also found that one non-virulent strain of the fungus actually protected
93% of wheat seedlings in tests.
Flowers that propagate by bulbs, corns and tubers rather
than seeds are particularly susceptible to virus disease. BARD grantees developed highly sensitive tests to detect cucumber mosaic
virus, ben yellow mosaic virus and other viral infections in gladiolus.
These tests are already being used to produce virus-free breeding stock
for Israel and Texas and to develop effective methods for preventing
BARD grantees in Georgia have been
studying CO2 , a normal component of air, proving that it is a viable
non-toxic alternative to the usual gases, phosphine and occasionally
methyl bromide, used for the fumigation of stored grains. The old gases
can be poisonous to humans, leave toxic residues in stored grain and
is believed to cause damage to the ozone layer. These methods are being
applied by several commercial firms in the U.S. and Israel and wheat
producing states, such as Texas, are likely to benefit.
In addition, to the projects funded directly by BARD,
a new Texas-BARD program
was created in 2003 to promote mission oriented, strategic and applied,
collaborative agricultural research and development activities conducted
jointly by scientists in Texas and Israel. The Texas Department of Agriculture
(TDA), Texas-Israel Exchange Fund
(TIE), and BARD are supporting this program, which will focus on
efficient use and management of soil and water for agriculture; post
harvest food technologies – quality, safety and security; horticulture,
field and garden crops – including floriculture and drought tolerance
Texas A&M University-Kingsville is a member of
the International Arid Lands
Consortium, a Congress-funded independent, nonprofit organization
established in 1989 that conducts research, develops applications in
arid and semiarid land technologies, and applies its projects in countries
around the world including the U.S. and Israel.
In 2013, Texas A&M University announced plans to open Texas A&M Peace University in Nazareth. Gov. Rick Perry and A&M Chancellor joined Israeli President Shimon Peres and Education Minister Shai Piron for the annoucement. The school will be financed by private donors from Texas and around the world because Texas A&M is prohibited from investing public funds in international campuses.
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