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The 2013 World Food Prize Laureates: Van Montagu, Chilton, and Fraley
This is a part of a series of blog posts leading up to this year’s World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, where GHI will release its 4th Annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report® at a luncheon event on October 16.
The World Food Prize, pioneered by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, came to life in 1986, as a means to honor those who have made a significant and measurable contribution to improving the world’s food supply.
Sometimes referred to as “the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture”, The World Food Prize is the foremost international award for recognizing the breakthrough achievements in food and agriculture, and strives to shine a spotlight on those in many fields of study who are making a difference in food security for people around the globe.
The 2013 Laureates to be honored at this year’s World Food Prize event, themed “The Next Borlaug Century: Biotechnology, Sustainability and Climate Volatility”, are three distinguished scientists- Dr. Marc Van Montagu of Belgium, and Drs Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert T. Fraley of the U.S.
According to the World Food Prize’s Statement of Achievement, this year’s Laureates are being honored for their “groundbreaking molecular research on how a plant bacterium could be adapted as a tool to insert genes from another organism into plant cells, which could produce new genetic lines with highly favorable traits.”
Using recombinant DNA, Van Montagu, Chilton and Fraley unlocked the key to plant cell transformation, which “led to a development of a host of genetically enhanced crops, which, by 2012, were grown on more than 170 million hectares around the globe by 17.3 million farmers, over 90 percent of whom were small resource-poor farmers in developing countries.”
Through their combined individual achievements in founding, developing, and applying modern agricultural biotechnology, the Laureates’ breakthrough research is making it possible for farmers to grow crops with improved yields, resistance to insects and disease, and the ability to tolerate extreme variations in climate.
With the world population expected to increase to over 9.6 billion by 2050 and 11 billion by 2100, which will need to increase by 60 percent from the present growth rate in order to meet the escalating food demands, their scientific developments “have contributed significantly to increasing the quantity and availability of food, and can play a critical role as we face the global challenges of…producing more food, in a sustainable way, while confronting an increasingly volatile climate.”
To read more about this year’s World Food Prize Laureates, please click here.