World Food Prize Laureate: Innovation, communication needed
Monsanto Chief Technology Officer and World Food Prize laureate Dr. Robert Fraley confirmed Monsanto’s commitment to broader open dialogue to address questions around innovations in agriculture, including biotechnology.
“Innovation is key to feeding a rapidly growing global population while also protecting the environment,” Fraley said. “But better dialogue is needed to build understanding and consensus in addressing some of humanity’s biggest challenges.”
Fraley, who accepted the 2013 World Food Prize along with Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton and Dr. Marc Van Montagu, outlined the challenges in feeding the world’s population while also coping with climate change and protecting the environment. Speaking to scientists, farmers, educators and students at the 2013 Borlaug Dialogue Symposium, Fraley emphasized the potential of innovation to help society manage these rapidly growing challenges.
During his speeches at the Borlaug Dialogue, Fraley pointed out that biotechnology is only one aspect of innovation in agriculture, with advanced breeding techniques and, increasingly, data science also playing important roles in helping farmers to maximize the amount of food grown on every square meter of every field. The combination of these advances will be critical for the world’s farmers to feed a global population that is expected to grow from 7.1 billion today to 9.6 billion in 2050, according to the United Nations.
Technology advances are even more critical when the environmental impact of a larger global population is considered. A land mass equivalent to roughly the size of South America is needed to feed today’s population.
“We can continue to innovate to grow more food from existing farmland, create more farmland across our planet at the expense of our forests and habitats that are vital to biodiversity, or do neither and increase the probability of even greater challenges in the decades ahead,” Fraley said. “I am absolutely confident that our ability to innovate will enable us to safely and sustainably feed a population of 9.6 billion by 2050.”
Fraley and fellow laureates Chilton and Van Montagu will receive the 2013 World Food Prize in recognition of their individual breakthrough achievements in founding, developing and applying modern agricultural biotechnology to help farmers feed the world. The Laureates’ work has led to the development of several crops developed through the use of biotechnology, which, by 2012, were grown on more than 170 million hectares around the globe by 17.3 million farmers. More than 90 percent of these farmers are smallholder farmers in developing countries.
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