Texas-Israel Relations: State-to-State Cooperation: A Strategy for American Renewal (To Be Continued)


Bilateral Institutions

Texas-Israel Chamber 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 HERE.

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 HERE.

Texas-BARD Program –
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 HERE.


Cooperative 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 HERE.

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

March 2017 – Texas Trade Commissioner Sid Miller visited the West Bank in March 2017 and signed Texas’s first ever trade agreement with a settlement: the Samaria regional council.  Upon arrival in Israel, Miller stated Israel is our strongest ally in the region. Texas needs Israel. The US needs Israel… I am ashamed to say that we have some in our universities boycotting Israel, so [this visit] is to counter that culture.

January 2016 – Texas Governor Greg Abbott [R] met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel on January 18, 2016. During the meeting Abbott and Netanyahu discussed the threat from Iran, and the Governor announced that during the upcoming legislative session he will support legislation that will require local government entities to divest all investment in Iran, and close loopholes in Texas’s divestment laws. Currently, Texas officials stated, only state retirement and pension funds were prohibited from making investments in Iran. Governor Abbott continued his trip with visits to Yad Vashem, King David’s Tomb, and the Western Wall.

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 2011Houston 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 2011Congresswoman Kay Granger traveled to Israel and the West Bank to learn more about regional politics as well as the American-Israeli relationship.

August 2009Governor 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 HERE.

June 2007Governor 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 2003US 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 parliament.

Partners For Change

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 American people.

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 of Texas

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 of Americans.

The potential for greater cooperation with Israel for the benefit of Texas is limited only by the imagination.

Texas Firms 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 McDonald’s, have found that it is indeed profitable to do business in Israel.

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 business with.”

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 and semiconductors.

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 in semiconductors.

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.


Scientific Innovations

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 of Pennsylvania).

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 haven’t 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 we’ve accomplished more together than we would have alone.”


Agriculture Benefits

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 the foundation.

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 the crop.

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 two hours.

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 country’s 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 reinfection.

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 and aquaculture.


Other Cooperative Programs

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 was to be financed by private donors from Texas and around the world because Texas A&M is prohibited from investing public funds in international campuses. In December 2015 Texas Governor Rick Perry announced alongside President Peres that the plans to build Texas A&M Peace University in Nazareth had been scrapped, in favor of building a $6 million marine research center along the Mediterranean sea in collaboration with the University of Haifa. Texas A&M system chancellor John Sharp clarified that the A&M system changed their plans because elected officials in the city of Nazareth were wanting to dictate aspects of the Peace University project. Regardless of whether the original idea came to fruition or not, Texas A&M accomplished their goal of expanding into Israel and penetrating that lucrative market.

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