William Henry “Bill” Gates III, co-founder of tech giant Microsoft Corp., last visited the Philippines in 1998. He has long surrendered the day-to-day operations of the company, and in the past decade has been more actively hands-on with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Sources in UP Los Baños, in whose sprawling Makiling campus IRRI is located, said Gates was in IRRI for at least two hours and was likely consulting with IRRI on the latest developments in rice research. The Gates Foundation supports anti-poverty programs, technology, and innovations worldwide, and in the past had invested as much as $20 million in research for the Golden Rice variety developed in IRRI. The genetically modified crop ostensibly holds out hope for cheaper, easier-to-propagate, and fortified rice that can be used to fight hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. Fortified with Vitamins A and B, Golden Rice can help curb child mortality and blindness, researchers have said. Environmental groups have been critical of Golden Rice and other GMO crops, warning against supposed potential environmental impacts. Other scientists, however, have refuted such fears, and point out that the fact that it is developed by IRRI means that there will be no royalties or corporate control over the promising crop.