Biotech pioneers picked for World Food Prize

Published online: Jun 29, 2013
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Three biotech crop scientists have been chosen for this year's World Food Prize, often referred to as the Nobel Prize for agriculture.

Two of the laureates are from the U.S. Robert Fraley is an Illinois native who worked on genetic engineering of crops for Monsanto since 1981.

"The biotechnology area has been really exciting," Fraley says, "Its also had controversy. So, the fact that the World Food Prize chose to recognize the three individuals who really helped move the biotechnology into crops is really special."

Fraley says supporters and critics of GM crops should find common ground in the shared challenge of doubling food production in the next 30 years to keep up with the anticipated population boom.

"I think, really, the only way to do that is to use technologies like biotechnology, like molecular breeding, like new information-based technologies that can provide growers with new tool," says Fraley.

A second 2013 Food Prize winner is Mary-Dell Chilton, who works for Monsanto's top competitor, Syngenta. Chilton says more countries are beginning to accept GM crops from the U.S.

The third winner is Marc Van Montagu from Belgium. He's the founder and chairman of the Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach at Ghent University.

The three will be awarded the prize at the Iowa State Capitol in October.

The World Food Prize was created in 1986 by the late Norman Borlaug of Iowa, who became known as the "Father of the Green Revolution" for his work in developing cereal grain varieties to meet the desperate food needs of the developing world.