Category Archives: Feature Section


By: CropLife International

In honor of World Food Day Oct. 16, this month is the perfect time to recognize the World Food Prize founder and some of the laureates who were pioneers in plant breeding and sustainable food production. Tweet us @CropLifeIntl and let us know who would be on your list!


The Father of The Green Revolution

Who: Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, plant scientist from the United States, known as the “father of the Green Revolution.”

Innovation: Developed successive generations of wheat varieties with broad and stable disease resistance that were adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions with exceedingly high yield potential.

Impact: The new wheat varieties, alongside improved crop management practices, transformed agricultural production in Mexico during the 1940s and 1950s and later in Asia and Latin America. The increased production helped combat hunger and famine, crediting Borlaug with saving “more lives than any other person who has ever lived.”

Recognition: Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize for a lifetime of work to feed a hungry world. As founder of the World Food Prize, he in turn recognized agricultural research and technologies to convince leaders to support them.


India’s Breadbasket Hero

WhoDr. Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, plant scientist from India.

Innovation: He worked with Borlaug to develop higher yielding wheat varieties with stalk structures strong enough to support their increased biomass. The first year’s harvest alone tripled previous production levels. Swaminathan also taught Indian farmers how to effectively increase production by using fertilizers and more efficient farming techniques.

Impact: Swaminathan’s efforts transformed India from a “begging bowl” to a “breadbasket” almost overnight, bringing the total wheat crop from 12 million to 23 million tons in four crop seasons and ending India’s reliance on imports. He later worked with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to establish agricultural policies and programs to enhance long-term self-sufficiency.

Recognition: Swaminathan received the first World Food Prize in 1987 for improving Indian agriculture.


Integrated Pest Management Pioneers

Who: Drs. Ray F. Smith and Perry L. Adkisson, agronomists from the United States.

Innovation: Developed and popularized Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – the best combination of cultural, biological and chemical measures to manage diseases, insects, weeds and other crop pests. Seeking to reduce reliance on crop protection products alone, Smith and Adkisson worked both independently and together to demonstrate the value of IPM programs.

Impact: U.S. government statistics estimate that American farmers’ need for insecticides dropped by 50 percent as they adopted an IPM approach to managing pests. Over 75 percent of U.S. farmers use IPM systems today. The United Nations estimates that over 1 million farmers in more than 60,000 villages in every region of the world have applied IPM methods with increased production in some cases.

Recognition: Smith and Adkisson shared the 1997 World Food Prize for developing and popularizing IPM.


Two Incredible Rice Breeders

Who: Dr. Monty Jones of Sierra Leone and Dr. Yuan Longping of China.

Innovation: These two rice scientists independently made breakthroughs in breeding rice. Jones created a rice variety bred for conditions in Africa with the ability to resist weeds, survive droughts and thrive in poor soils – a crop capable of increasing farmers’ harvests by 25 to 250 percent. Longping is known as the “father of hybrid rice,” the first scientist to successfully alter the self-pollinating characteristics of rice to allow for large-scale hybrid rice production.

Impact: Jones’ rice benefits 20 million farmers and 240 million consumers in West Africa alone. Longping’s discovery increased rice yields by 20 percent, feeding about 70 million more people annually. His research institute has trained over 3,000 scientists from more than 50 countries, inspiring hybrid rice production around the world.

Recognition: Jones and Longping won the 2004 World Food Prize during the International Year of Rice declared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


Plant Biotech’s Three Founders

Who: Three plant scientists — Dr. Marc Van Montagu of Belgium and Drs. Mary-Dell Chiltonand Robert T. Fraley of the United States.

Innovation: They independently pioneered research on the successful transfer of bacterial genes into plants, creating the world’s first biotech crops with improved yields, resistance to insects and diseases, and tolerance to herbicides and extreme climatic conditions. Van Montagu founded two biotechnology companies which pioneered work on insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant crops. Chilton established one of the first industrial agricultural biotechnology programs, leading research on disease and insect resistance and improving transformation systems in crops. At Monsanto Company, Fraley led the genetic modification of several crops to be resistant to insect and weed pests as well as tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate and climatic stress, such as excessive heat and drought.

Impact: Since biotech crops were introduced in 1996, 18 million farmers in 26 countries have planted 185 million hectares, generating $150 billion USD in additional farm income.

Recognition: Van Montagu, Chilton and Fraley shared the 2013 World Food Prize for their breakthroughs in founding, developing and applying modern biotechnology to crops.


The Anti-Poverty Leader

Who: Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, development pioneer from Bangladesh.

Innovation: Developed BRAC (formerly the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), which many claim to be the most effective anti-poverty organization in the world. The objectives of BRAC’s agriculture and food security program have been to increase crop and livestock production while ensuring environmental sustainability, adaptability to climate change, and affordability for marginal and small farmers. Essential to this approach is ensuring that improved inputs and technologies are taken to the poor farmers—and that the experience of the farmers is brought back to the laboratories—in a continual cycle of innovation.

Impact: BRAC has helped nearly 150 million people worldwide, especially women, improve their lives, enhance food security and move out of poverty. It has also helped more than 500,000 farmers gain access to efficient farming techniques, technologies, training and financial support services, significantly increasing yields.

Recognition: Abed was honored as the 2015 World Food Prize laureate for developing BRAC

Learn more about World Food Prize laureates at


The World Food Prize, known to some as the Oscars of agriculture, is awarded annually to one or more individuals who have made a great achievement in furthering sustainable agriculture and global food security. Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, tells us more.

What inspired you to take the position of president of the World Food Prize after such an illustrious career in the foreign service?

Ironically, I had no contact with agriculture and no interest in it at the outset of my career. When I joined the U.S. foreign service in 1967, I thought I’d be going to fancy places like London, Paris and Brussels but instead, I was sent to Vietnam to do rural development and I was out working in villages when the Green Revolution began. Norman Borlaug was bringing his miracle wheat to Mexico at that time and I saw high-yielding rice that could grow in half the time come to Vietnam. It transformed the lives of people in one or two growing seasons.

When I finished in 1999 as ambassador in Cambodia, I was approached to take over the World Food Prize and I finally met Borlaug. I thought he’d think I was some fancy pants diplomat but when I explained the importance of infrastructure to rural development, Borlaug pounded his fist on the table in agreement and screamed “roads!” He said that if you don’t have roads, you might as well not have the food. After that, we worked together to grow the World Food Prize.

How does it feel to encourage excellence in agricultural production around the world?

It feels marvelous to be able to hold up Borlaug’s legacy and continue his work, harnessing the power of science to uplift farmers, especially smallholder farmers. Borlaug wondered if the Green Revolution would hit Africa and it is great that this year’s winner is from there. Actually, we now have six World Food Prize laureates from Africa as the World Food Prize is helping fulfill the goal Borlaug had of inspiring leaders in countries across the continent

How has the World Food Prize contributed to agricultural improvement?

At its most basic, this annual prize of $250,000 recognizes and inspires individuals who have improve the quality, quantity and availability of food to reduce hunger and malnutrition. We also organize an annual symposium called the Borlaug Dialogue to highlight key issues facing global agriculture and food security. It regularly draws over 1,000 people from about 60 countries. Bill Gates launched his Africa project from the World Food Prize stage and Indra

Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico, launched her company’s global nutrition challenge. Tony Blair and Kofi Annan are other examples of headliners.

The Global Youth Institute is our third project. We recruit 15- to 17-year-old students from nine countries to rub shoulders with ministers of agriculture and present papers with solutions to agricultural challenges. Most are urban high school students with no background in agriculture or farming and about two-thirds are women. They are interested in the environment, biotechnology, climate volatility and gender equity – all of which fall under rural and agricultural development. We have 200 students per symposium, 24 of which are sent to leading agricultural research centers around world for internships. They come back transformed and inspired to deal with issues of food security, human nutrition and making the world better

What are the common values or characteristics of World Food Prize laureates?

As part of the World Food Prize process for the past 18 years, I have the great privilege of calling up the winners or telling them face to face that they’ve won. In each case, it takes their breath away. They are taken with this honor. The laureates are characterized by humility and dedication. Every one of them has put in extra effort somewhere, overcome a hurdle or taken an arduous path at times – such as blocks in research – and yet with perseverance, they never gave up. Many of the living laureates come to the World Food Prize each year. They are the all-star team of food production and hunger reduction in all of human history.

Which agricultural technologies and practices have the greatest potential to enhance future food production and security?

Can we produce enough nutritious food in a sustainable way and can we do so in face of climate volatility, droughts and floods that smallholder farmers must face? The debate of biotechnology is over. “Science is the multiplier of the harvest,” says a National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C. The World Food Prize was presented in 2013 to biotech pioneers. Smallholder farmers, namely women, who are barely able to have a sustainable harvest, need every possible asset on their side. Crop surpluses will uplift their lives and feed more people. Opponents of biotechnology have to answer the question: Am I going to deny this asset to those smallholder farmers? I don’t believe you can in good conscience. They should have the best technology available to them to combat flooding, etc. It’s a race of science and agricultural research to combat these difficult challenges.

Precision agriculture, satellites and cell phones are also important so farmers know when to plant and what to do. Same with CRISPR technology and gene editing. The next Borlaug Dialogue will be a CRIPSR panel talking about the challenge of change in research and the importance of agricultural and medical research scientists collaborating more. We need to take lessons from one discipline to another.

Synthetic biology will also be part of our future. That’s where you can replicate living things digitally and transmit them via the Internet. For example, if there is a pig disease outbreak outside of the U.S., quarantined pig parts can be transmitted digitally to U.S. labs so scientists here can develop vaccines and send the formulas digitally back to where the outbreak took place.

The final area with enormous potential is biofortification – improving the nutritional composition of crops like vegetables and grains – which can be done with traditional plant breeding or genetic modification.

We’ve come a long way in agriculture. How much further can we go?      

In the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, we have a history of human agriculture of 10,000 years – from the first seed in Mesopotamia to the 20th century when breakthroughs came at

the most amazing rate. But it’s clear, as in medicine, that more is certainly possible. Spreading technology and the road out of poverty is the theme of the World Food Prize this year because roads are key to spreading technology; nutrition, science and better seeds.

Do we have the resources to take agricultural research to the next level

Borlaug lamented underfunded public agricultural research. If we don’t put money into agricultural research, we will not have the tools necessary to meet greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. Investing in agricultural research at the state and national levels is one of very best ways of creating more jobs and stimulating breakthrough achievements that need to be developed. We’ve created the greatest system of agricultural research that’s ever existed, but will we use it to its fullest capacity, especially in the developing world where the most food insecure people live?

Visit the World Food Prize website to find out more about the Borlaug Dialogues this year 18-20 October. Follow it online using #FoodPrize17 


By: CropLife International

 Watch this video to learn about the phenomenal legacy of Dr. Norman Borlaug, plant breeder, Nobel Prize laureate and World Food Prize founder. “When you talk about food security, it doesn’t take very long for the name Norman Borlaug to come up,” said former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. “He dedicated his entire life and career to feeding the world’s hungry.” Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack added: “Norm felt the responsibility to make sure that those below saw the same vision he saw of a world without hunger, a world with peace.”


FAO Focus on “Food Security” this World Food Day Supported by CropLife Asia

Singapore, 16 October 2017 – This World Food Day CropLife Asia commended the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for its efforts to bring greater awareness to the need for Food Security in combatting global hunger, and took the opportunity to herald the contributions farmers enabled by plant science technologies are making in Asia and around the world are making to feed a growing population.

According to data from the FAO, world hunger is on the rise with an estimated number of undernourished people increasing from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016. Meanwhile, the Food Security situation has also visibly worsened in parts of the world, including South Eastern and Western Asia.

“The number of people in Asia without adequate access to a safe and nutritious food supply is growing – and that’s simply unacceptable,” said Dr. Siang Hee Tan. “The responsibility to ensure everyone has enough healthy food to eat is a shared one. The plant science industry fully supports the FAO in the pursuit of wiping out world hunger, and is committed to ensuring farmers in Asia are empowered and enabled to produce more food for a growing population.”

According to the UN, the world’s population is projected to exceed nine billion inhabitants by the year 2050, and Asia alone is expected to have roughly one billion more people living within it[1].

Growers around the world will need to produce as much as 70% more food than today to meet the expected needs of our population by 2050 while facing a host of obstacles including climate change. The numerous innovations of plant biotechnology and crop protection will be key in driving sustainable production of a safe and nutritious food supply to feed our growing population.

“FAO numbers indicate that 85% of the world’s 525 million smallholder farmers live and work within our continent,” added Dr. Tan. “These farmers are crucial to combatting hunger in Asia; they deserve our support and access to the latest technological tools to grow more food with fewer natural resources.”

Crop protection products prevent nearly 40% of global rice and maize harvests from being lost every year[2]. Meanwhile, biotech crops helped slow the advance of climate change by reducing carbon emissions.  For example, it is estimated biotech crop plantings in 2015 reduced carbon emissions by 26.7 billion kg which is equivalent to taking 11.9 million cars off the road for one year.[3]

About CropLife Asia

CropLife Asia is a non-profit society and the regional organization of CropLife International, the voice of the global plant science industry.  We advocate a safe, secure food supply, and our vision is food security enabled by innovative agriculture.  CropLife Asia supports the work of 15 member associations across the continent and is led by eight member companies at the forefront of crop protection, seeds and/or biotechnology research and development.  For more information, visit us at

For more information please contact:

Duke Hipp                                                                                      

Director, Public Affairs                                                                 

CropLife Asia                                                                  

Tel: (65) 6221 1615                                                                                            

[1] United Nations, Population Division, World Population Prospects
[2] Oerke, E.C., 2006, “Crop losses to pests,” Journal of Agricultural Science, vol. 144
[3] International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) Brief 52 – 2016


By: CropLife International


Up to 50,000 square kilometers of soil is lost every year to soil erosion so plant scientists are working hard to stop it. In Canada, for example, farmers who planted herbicide-tolerant canola without tillage reduced soil erosion by 86 percent.

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Herbicide-tolerant biotech crops enable farmers to use herbicides instead of tillage (turning over soil) for weed control. This leaves crop stubble in the field, which improves habitat and food sources for insects, birds and other animals.

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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that around 1 billion people in dry regions may face increasing water scarcity in the near future. To address this challenge, plant scientists have developed biotech crops with drought-tolerant and water use efficiency traits. Moreover, with no-till farming, thanks to herbicide-tolerant systems, farmers can increase soil moisture by as much as 24 percent.

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Biotechnology and crop protection products allow farmers to grow more food on existing farmland . Between 1996 and 2015, biotechnology alone was responsible for additional global production of 574 million tonnes of crops, predominantly soybeans, maize, cotton and canola. As a result, 174 million hectares of farmland expansion was prevented.

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Herbicide-tolerant crops allow for no-till farming which leaves soil undisturbed and carbon in the ground. With the use of such biotech crops from 1996 to 2015, nearly 27 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions were not released into the atmosphere – equivalent to taking 11.9 million cars off the road for one year.

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Working together, biotech crops and crop protection products contribute to sustainable agriculture by increasing production on the current 1.5 billion hectares of global crop land, allowing for no-till farming and more efficient use of natural resources.