It’s easy for anti-industry activists to pour on the hatred for a big, impersonal corporation. Say, like Monsanto.
They can go off on the greed, the ruthless domination, the lust for profits that can be tacked onto pretty much any multi-national organization’s rap sheet. It’s a different story, however, when the task is to demonize accomplished, intelligent scientists who have devoted their careers to promoting the progress of agriculture and the growers and farmers who make their living in that oldest of professions.
Such is the case with the World Food Prize honorees named last week in a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, D.C. The 2013 prize was awarded to Marc Van Montagu of Belgium and Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert Fraley of the United States for their research on plant biotechnology.
That’s right: The dreaded “b-word.”
I can’t wait to see how the groups opposed to the agricultural applications of the science (and they rarely ever mention other, related research, such as developing newer and cheaper drugs that are essential to modern clinical care) try to demonize these respected, dedicated, indeed visionary scientists for striving to reach the goal of more and better food supplies for the multi-millions suffering from hunger and starvation.
And how about this: One of this year’s recipients happens to be employed by big, bad Monsanto itself.
If you’re a commentator waiting for somebody to say something dumb that can serve as fodder for a stinging rebuttal, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
One billion saved—and counting
The prestige associated with the World Food Prize stems not only from its longevity, having been awarded since 1986, but also from the fact that it was created by the late agronomist and humanitarian Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and chief architect of the “Green Revolution” that dramatically boosted agricultural productivity across much of the developing world in the 1960s and ’70s. During his lifetime, his research is credited with saving almost a billion people from starvation.
An Iowa native, Borlaug created the prize to recognize the work of individuals who have improved the quantity and availability of the world’s food supply. The World Food Prize news release noted that these scientists’ research will play a critical role in addressing the nutritional needs of a global population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, not to mention the impact of increasingly unpredictable climate changes on food productivity.