“Nobel of Agriculture”, World Food Prize. And the Winner is … Monsanto

Marc Van Montagu, Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert Fraley, pioneers in biotechnology and GMO crops

Region:
gmfood

Though not nearly as high profile, the annual World Food Prize award is often referred to as the “Nobel Prize” for agriculture, and this year’s winners – scientists with key roles in developing genetically engineered crops – may bring unwanted attention.

On Wednesday, the winners of the World Food Prize were announced at the US State Department, with Secretary of State John Kerry in attendance. This year’s award will be shared among three scientists: Marc Van Montagu, Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert Fraley, all pioneers in agricultural biotechnology.

Fraley is currently the chief technology officer at biotech giant Monsanto, while Mary-Dell Chilton is the founder of Syngenta Biotechnology, another prominent biotech company. In awarding the prize, which comes along with a $250,000 cash award, the Iowa-based World Food Prize Foundation reasons that genetically modified crops offer higher yields, and are more resilient to pestilence and adverse weather.

“These three scientists are being recognized for their independent, individual breakthrough achievements in founding, developing and applying modern agricultural biotechnology,” said Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation.

Though genetically modified foods are generally accepted within the US, as evidenced by the GMO varieties of soybeans and corn popular among US farmers, they are not approved for cultivation in Europe, and their introduction into other markets, such as India and China, has been limited. Countries in Europe such as Hungary have gone as far as destroying entire shipments of seed found to be genetically modified.

Likewise, there is a vibrant number of consumer groups in the US that strongly advocate against the introduction of other GMO crops such as wheat for direct human consumption (as opposed to use in animal feed) and also advocate for GMO food labeling.

Van Montagu, founder of the Institute of Plant Technology Outreach at Ghent University in Belgium, has said he hoped “that this recognition will pave the way for Europe to embrace the benefits of this technology, an essential condition for global acceptance of transgenic plants.”

 

A woman holds up a poster during a protest against U.S.-based Monsanto Co. and genetically modified organisms (GMO), in New York May 25, 2013. (Reuters / Eduardo Munoz)

A woman holds up a poster during a protest against U.S.-based Monsanto Co. and genetically modified organisms (GMO), in New York May 25, 2013. (Reuters / Eduardo Munoz)

The World Food Prize Foundation, a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1986 at the behest of Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, honored for his role in the “green revolution,” has been criticized in the past for its close ties to agribusiness.

If nothing else, a look back at the past winners of the prize seems to indicate the organization’s emphasis on technology, and the potential to alleviate mass hunger and increase crop yields.

Last year’s winner of the World Food Prize was Daniel Hillel, who pioneered food production in the Middle East with a radically new method of delivering water to crops in arid regions known as “micro-irrigation.” In the previous two years, the organization honored NGOs and political leaders that worked to alleviate hunger.

Regardless, this year’s inclusion of scientists with deep roots in the biotech field is sure not to sit well with opponents of GMO crops. Though genetically modified seeds are hailed as a solution to alleviate hunger and increase crop yields, critics worry about the legal repercussions of corporate control over food sources, as well as the loss of biodiversity and potential impact on the environment.

More controversial is whether GMO foods may produce adverse health effects by human consumption. Critics of genetically modified plants point to the possibility of transferring antibiotic resistance, or the creation of allergens that might impact both humans and animals.

Copyright RT, 2013

Articles by: Global Research News

Related Global Research Articles:

  • Former Pro-GMO Scientist Speaks Out On The Real Dangers of Genetically Engineered FoodFormer Pro-GMO Scientist Speaks Out On The Real Dangers of Genetically Engineered Food

    I retired 10 years ago after a long career as a research scientist for Agriculture Canada. When I was on the payroll, I was the designated scientist of my institute to address public groups and reassure them that genetically engineered crops and foods were safe. There is, […]
  • Monsanto Earnings Fall 34% as Farmers Reject GMO CropsMonsanto Earnings Fall 34% as Farmers Reject GMO Crops

    The biotech giant Monsanto, which is responsible for genetically modifying much of the nation’s and world’s crops, announced that its earnings fell 34% in its first fiscal quarter as South American farmers reject GMO crops. This is even more evidence that the number of individuals and […]
  • The Paris “Charlie Hebdo” March: The Frailty of Free Speech The Paris “Charlie Hebdo” March: The Frailty of Free Speech

    “We must demonstrate our solidarity with Charlie Hebdo without forgetting all the world’s other Charlies.” - Christophe Deloire, RWB Secretary, Jan 11, 2014 “Paris is the capital of the world today,” proclaimed French President François Hollande.  “The whole country will rise up.”  The […]

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article. The Center of Research on Globalization grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author's copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: [email protected]

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of "fair use" in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than "fair use" you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: [email protected]