What I Learned At World Food Prize Symposium

Iowa Farm Scene

Hungry people don't worry about GMOs.

Published on: October 28, 2013

"It just seems like yesterday that I was in the laboratory, trying to figure out how to put genes into petunia plants and now we've got biotech crops growing in 30 countries around the world. And there's so much more potential to come. We're going to need it because we need to double the food supply to feed 9 billion people by 2050. I think we can do it. But it's a tremendous challenge. And it is the greatest challenge facing us and all mankind in the future."

"You know, I think if Dr. Borlaug were here this evening he'd be pretty proud of the scientific progress we've made. The first thing he'd ask is, 'How are we doing on that rust gene in wheat?' And then he'd ask me, 'Now how does that drought gene really do this year in field trials?' And before he did anything else, he would look around and he would probably have a conversation with every student who's in this beautiful place, because he loved youth. And then it would take about one second and Norm would say, 'We've got a lot of work to do, let's get on with it."

Marc Van Montagu: "I'm very, very grateful to the World Food Prize Foundation that they have recognized plant genetic engineering as a tool that will bring and has already proven it can bring progress for feeding those who need it most. But I'm frustrated that it take so long before this technology can help those who need it most."

"And I hope that with the effort that the foundation has done, with the former laureates and with all the colleagues that are here, that we can mobilize to explain why biotechnology is needed. I want to stress that from fundamental research, looking how in nature bacteria makes transgenic plants, that start should for many bring, that it is the priority to do outstanding fundamental research and be ready and have the structures, that this science can then be applied. And for that, people in fundamental research should have close links with breeders. And that is what the World Food Prize is about, bringing molecular biologists and traditional breeders together."