"Their research is making it possible for farmers to grow crops with improved yields, resistance to insects and disease, and the ability to tolerate extreme variations in climate," said foundation president
Proponents of genetically modified foods argue they are safe and can boost harvests even in bad conditions, which will be essential to meeting food demands from a booming global population in the coming decades.
But critics contend there's not enough testing or regulation of genetically modified crops, which according to organic food advocates are harmful to human health and the environment.
Experts on both sides of the issue are scheduled to debate the pros and cons at this year's World Food Prize symposium, which will take place this Wednesday through Friday.
Ahead of the symposium, Montagu, Chilton and Fraley will present the Norman E. Borlaug Lecture at ISU on Monday. Borlaug, who was raised on a small farming community in northeast
As the foundation now recognizes
Fraley commended the
"There's no doubt that biotech is still controversial," Fraley said during a telephone interview Friday.
He said he gives the foundation "a lot of credit for their courage in selecting biotech because of the controversy, but also because of the incredible success that biotechnology has had in terms of its global adoption."
The selection of the three, given the focus of their research, has opened up the door to an important discussion about how critical new technology and innovation in agriculture will be to meeting the doubling in food demand that the world will face over the next 35 or 40 years, Fraley said.
As for the anti-GMO protests planned in conjunction with next week's World Food Prize events, Fraley reasoned that it's a free country and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
"There's extreme views on either end," he said, adding that as he travel and talks to people, he finds there is also an understanding that the world population is increasing and the world demand for food is expected to double.
"I personally think that food security is the greatest challenge that faces the planet," Fraley said. "I wish we could generate the enthusiasm and energy for that topic as some of the protests that are out there. Because I think that's really the discussion that's going to be reverberating within the halls of the World Food Prize next week."
2013 Norman Borlaug Lecture
Who: World Food Prize Laureates Marc Van Montagu,
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