By Brandie Piper
This week scientists, academics, government officials and non-governmental organization representatives will gather in Des Moines, Iowa to honor the 2015 World Food Prize winner, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed. Established in 1986 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, the World Food Prize is often called the “Nobel Prize for food and agriculture.”
Borlaug wanted to recognize individuals who make contributions that positively affect the global food supply. Over the years, World Food Prize laureates from around the world have been honored for improving the quality and quantity of available food, including Monsanto’s Chief Technology Officer Dr. Robert Fraley, who was awarded the prize in 2013 for his work in founding, developing, and applying modern agricultural biotechnology to help farmers have better harvests around the world.
The World Food Prize ceremony is part of a series of events focused on improving food security. Experts will meet for several panel discussions on topics ranging from inspiring young women to pursue careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to food security in Ebola-affected countries.
Three scientists from Monsanto are attending the World Food Prize panels. On Wednesday, Dr. Fraley took part in the “Girls in STEM” panel. Later in the week Dr. Sherri Brown, vice president of science strategy, will be part of the discussion “Feed. Nourish. Thrive.” and Michael K. Stern, president and chief operating officer of The Climate Corporation, will participate in the talk about precision agriculture and data.
The week will conclude with a ceremony honoring Sir Fazle Hasan Abed of Bangladesh. Abed is the founder and chairperson of BRAC, which aims to eliminate poverty and help the poor.
Six facts about the World Food Prize and its laureates:
- Seven winners have an association with Cornell University.
- Two winners were presidents of their countries (Luiz Lula da Silva of Brazil and John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana).
- A nickname might help your odds of winning; Dr. Phillip Nelson is known as the “Tomato King” and Dr. John Niederhauser is known as “Mr. Potato.”
- Only one winner (Dr. Muhammad Yunus) has also received the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Dr. Perry Adkisson, 1997 World Food Prize laureate, is the only person to receive all three major prizes in agriculture. In 1980 he won the Alexander von Humboldt Award and in 1994 he won the Wolf Prize in Agriculture.
- Only four women have ever won the award: Dr. Evangelina Villegas, Catherine Bertini, Jo Luck, and Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton.