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World Food Prize goes to a Belgian for the first time: The scientist Marc Van Montagu
Date:6/19/2013

ard," says Marc Van Montagu, former Director of VIB Department of Plant Systems Biology, UGent. "For me, it emphasizes the importance of GMO technology as a contributing factor to sustainable food production. And although I am much honored, I am well aware that there is still a long way to go before this technology is fully established to produce the orphan crops and varieties essential to food security of smallholder farmers in less developed countries. I hope that this recognition will pave the way for Europe to embrace the benefits of this technology, an essential condition for global acceptance of transgenic plants."

Marc Van Montagu is currently a scientific advisor to VIB, running the Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach (IPBO).

"Based on the scientific discovery of the DNA double helix by Watson and Crick in 1950, Van Montagu, Chilton and Fraley have each carried out pioneering molecular research into how a plant bacterium can be modified to act as a mail service for taking genes inside plant cells and thereby creating genetically modified plants with specific favorable characteristics. Their work has led to 170 million hectares (420 million acres) of modified crops being grown by 17.3 million farmers," continues Mr. Quinn. "More than 90 percent of those are small resource-poor farmers in developing countries."

Estimates by the FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, suggest that the world population will keep increasing, reaching 9 billion by 2050. Currently, 870 million people - one in eight - suffer from hunger. Scientific developments will therefore play an essential role in the challenges of the 21st century for sustainable higher levels of food production.

"Through their work, from the laboratory through to applied biotech innovations in the field," concludes the chairman of the World Food Prize foundation, Kenneth M. Quinn, "the laureates of the 2013 World Food Prize have made significant
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Contact: Kris Van der Beken
kris.vanderbeken@vib.be
32-924-46611
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Source:Eurekalert

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