Monsanto scientist wins World Food Prize

For the first time in its 27-year history, a prestigious award for enhancing the global food supply has gone to a creator of genetically modified crops, a top scientist at Monsanto.

Robert T. Fraley, Monsanto’s executive vice president and chief technology officer, will share the $250,000 World Food Prize with two other scientists who helped devise how to insert foreign genes into plants: Marc Van Montagu of Belgium and Mary-Dell Chilton of the United States. . .

The prize was started in 1987 by Norman E. Borlaug, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for bringing about the Green Revolution, which vastly increased grain output, and who thought there should be a Nobel Prize for agriculture. The award is given to those who improve the “quality, quantity or availability” of food in the world. . .

The World Food Prize Foundation said the work of the three scientists led to the development of crops that can resist insects, disease and extremes of climate, and are higher-yielding.

Genetically engineered crops, which for the most part contain genes from bacteria, now account for roughly 90 percent of the corn, soybeans and cotton grown in the United States. Globally, genetically modified crops are grown on 420 million acres by 17.3 million farmers, over 90 percent of them small farmers in developing countries, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, an organization that promotes use of biotechnology. . .

“I’m sure there will be some controversy about it,” Kenneth M. Quinn, the president of the World Food Prize Foundation, said in an interview before the winners were announced. “At the same time the view of our organization and our committee is that in the face of controversy, you shouldn’t back away from your precepts. If you do so, you are diminishing the prize.’’

Mr. Quinn, a former United States ambassador to Cambodia, said crop biotechnology had “met the test of demonstrating it would impact millions of people and enhance their lives.’’ . . .

The winners of the 2013 prize were part of teams that independently developed methods three decades ago for putting foreign genes into the DNA of plants. . . .

This is a win for science and business and a blow to the anti-science, anti-business movement.

Although as their case is political and based on emotion rather than science, they are unlikely to let the facts get in the way of their story.

 

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One Response to Monsanto scientist wins World Food Prize

  1. Dave Kennedy says:

    Ele, what is bad about Monsanto isn’t always the science, it’s the way that they trap poor farmers into financial dependency and destroy the agricultural economy of third world countries for their own profit. http://www.qwmagazine.com/2012/06/15/brazilian-farmers-win-2-billion-judgment-against-monsanto-2/

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