In 1986, Dr. Norman Borlaug, an agronomist and Nobel Laureate who is widely recognized as the "father of the Green Revolution," established the World Food Prize. It is an annual international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
On June 19 during the announcement ceremony at the U.S. Department of State, the World Food Prize Foundation announced Marc Van Montagu of Belgium, and Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert Fraley of the United States as the winners of the 2013 World Food Prize. The award will officially be presented in October during the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa.
“People who don’t have to worry about where their next meal comes from are people who have a greater ability to be able to fulfill their dreams."
Working in the field of biotechnology, all three laureates have spent many years developing strains of plants improved to minimize crop loss due to pests, diseases and other problems.
“Today nearly 870 million people, one-eighth of the world’s population, suffer from chronic hunger,” said Secretary of State John Kerry, who delivered the keynote speech after the announcement.
“Hunger is a trap that prevents people from realizing their God-given potential.” Yet by the year 2050, the global population will have grown to more than 9 billion people, meaning that food production will need to increase by at least 60 percent over our current agricultural production, said Secretary of State Kerry:
“That’s why we are supporting research and development into climate-smart crops that can withstand drought, withstand floods, actually improve nutrition at the same time, and help protect precious national resources. It is simply true that biotechnology has dramatically increased crop yields.”
Through President Barack Obama’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, the United States supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sector to spur economic growth and trade that can help break the cycle of poverty and under-nutrition. This includes harnessing science and technology in agriculture.
“People who don’t have to worry about where their next meal comes from are people who have a greater ability to be able to fulfill their dreams and help to be constructive, contributing citizens of the world,” said Secretary Kerry. “The work of our winners ... shows us we have the ability to do exceptional things.”