A short while ago, largely under the radar, the World Food Prize – the equivalent of a Nobel prize for the field of agriculture — was awarded to two of the world leaders in the world of genetically modified organisms for food: a Vice-President of Monsanto and the founder of Syngenta ‘s biotech research center.
Of course, ill-informed, anti-biotech activists are up in arms over the selection.
The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing — without regard to race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs — the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The Prize recognizes contributions in any field involved in the world food supply — food and agriculture science and technology, manufacturing, marketing, nutrition, economics, poverty alleviation, political leadership and the social sciences.
The World Food Prize emphasizes the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people, by honoring those who have worked successfully toward this goal. Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work in world agriculture, envisioned a prize that would honor those who have made significant and measurable contributions to improving the world’s food supply. Beyond recognizing these people for their personal accomplishments, Borlaug saw The Prize as a means of establishing role models who would inspire others. His vision was realized when The World Food Prize was created in 1986.
Though a relatively new field, the development of bioengineered crops holds the most promise of any ongoing line of research to feed the worlds growing, increasingly wealthy, population. I, among others, have written about the promise of and threats to the ongoing development of genetically modified crops on a number of occasions.
It’s good to see productive science recognized and rewarded even in the face of unfounded, but increasingly publicized, fears of new technology.
Every scientific body worth counting has judged biotechnology to be safe and necessary, but still many environmental radicals play on fears of the unknown to get the public and sadly, all too often successfully, public officials to come out against and even restrict or prohibit the introduction of nutritious, high-yield, vitamin enhanced biotech crops.
For ecoradicals, it’s evidently better that millions of people in developing countries die of starvation or suffer the effects of malnutrition now than consume bioengineered crops on the off chance that some small percentage of people could somehow, through some unexplained mechanism , suffer some as yet unobserved harm that the radicals theorize could be a reaction to biotech foods at some later date.