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Grassley Q & A

The World Food Prize

October 12, 2011
Dysart Reporter

By Senator Charles Grassley

Q: How is The World Food Prize tied to Iowa?

A: Two Iowans were behind creation of the World Food Prize, the international award recognizing individuals who improve the quality, quantity and availability of food in the world. Dr. Norman Borlaug (1914-2009) - an agronomist, humanitarian, Nobel laureate (the only recipient to receive this honor for working in agriculture), and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal - grew up in rural Cresco. He was the father of what's called the Green Revolution when, from the 1940s to the 1970s, research, development and new technologies increased agricultural production around the world. Dr. Borlaug was involved with the development of high-yielding varieties of cereal grains, expansion of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of management techniques, and the distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to farmers. Dramatically increasing crop yields saved hundreds of millions of people from starvation. Dr. Borlaug's leadership and tireless work gave the world's poorest people access to food. It's said that he saved more lives than any other person in history. Dr. Borlaug envisioned a prize as a means of recognizing and inspiring achievements in fighting world hunger. His vision was realized in 1986, when The World Food Prize was created. In 1990, the first sponsor of the prize withdrew, and Iowa businessman and leading philanthropist John Ruan (1914-2010) stepped forward to endow the prize, making it possible to continue Dr. Borlaug's vision. The World Food Prize organization is located in Des Moines.

Q: Who is considered for the prize?

A: Contributions by individuals in any field that's involved in the world food supply including food and agricultural science and technology, manufacturing, marketing, nutrition, economics, poverty alleviation, political leadership, and the social sciences are recognized by The World Food Prize. The prize values a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people. Outstanding individuals from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, Denmark, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States have received the prize. It's most fitting that this prestigious award is given each fall in Iowa. Iowa farmers are blessed with some of the best soil in the world, and our state's productivity and agricultural abundance have made significant contributions to global food security, humanitarian relief, economic growth, job creation and national security.



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