Secretary of State John Kerry delivered the keynote address at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State on June 19, where three distinguished scientists were named winners of the 2013 World Food Prize: Marc Van Montagu, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries, Department of Molecular Genetics at Ghent University, Belgium; Mary-Dell Chilton, Distinguished Science Fellow at Syngenta Biotechnology, Inc. in Triangle Park, North Carolina; and Robert T. Fraley, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Monsanto Company in St. Louis, Missouri.
They were honored for their independent breakthrough achievements in founding, developing and applying modern plant biotechnology. Their research has made it possible for farmers to grow crops with improved yields, resistance to insects and disease, and the ability to tolerate extreme variations in climate such as excessive heat and drought.
Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Robert Hormats hosted the event, and World Food Prize Foundation President and former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Kenneth M. Quinn announced the names of the winners.
“Hunger is a trap that prevents people from realizing their God-given potential. Food drives life. And the struggle for food is a struggle for life. This makes hunger an economic issue, a national security issue – and without a doubt a moral issue,” Secretary Kerry said. “Through innovation, we can help alleviate hunger and malnutrition today - but more than that, we can help fulfill our responsibility to tomorrow.”
Through Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, the U.S. government is establishing a foundation for lasting progress against global hunger. With a focus on smallholder farmers, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth that increases incomes and reduces hunger, poverty, and undernutrition and supports a research agenda to harness scientific innovation and technology in agriculture.
Ambassador Quinn said, "Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founder of the World Food Prize, the late Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, was a passionate believer in the power of science to ensure we will have sufficient food for all in the 21st century. He would be extremely pleased to see biotechnology recognized, both for what it has already provided in additional food for poor people, and also its potential in the coming decades.”
This year marks the 27th anniversary of the $250,000 World Food Prize, which recognizes individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
The World Food Prize was established in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug in order to focus the world’s attention on the ongoing hunger crisis and on those whose work has significantly helped efforts to end it.
Dr. Borlaug earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work as a plant breeder and for taking new agricultural practices to starving nations around the world. Each year, more than 4,000 institutions and organizations around the world are invited to nominate candidates for the prize.
The award will be formally presented in a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, on October 17.
The World Food Prize is guided by a distinguished Council of Advisors that includes former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush. More information, including biographies of the laureates, is available at www.worldfoodprize.org.
Highlights from the ceremony will be available at www.stateondemand.state.gov.