European founder of plant biotech awarded prestigious “World Food Prize”

20.06.2013

Brussels, 20 June 2013 -The prestigious “World Food Prize”, also known as the “Nobel Prize in Food & Agriculture”, has been awarded to Belgian plant scientist and GM inventor Prof. Marc Van Montagu, jointly with the American scientists Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert T. Fraley. This was announced in Washington DC on Wednesday by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who stated: “Through innovation, we can help alleviate hunger andmalnutrition today – but more than that, we can help fulfill our responsibility to tomorrow.” The three scientists received the prize “for their individual, independent breakthroughs as founders of modern, green biotechnology and their contributions to its development and application”.

Marc Van Montagu commented: “For me, it emphasizes the importance of GMO technology as a contributing factor to sustainable food production. (…) 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.

Congratulating the laureate, Nathalie Moll, secretary general of EuropaBio, said: “We, as the European Bioindustry Association, are proud to be located where it all began, in Belgium, where Professor Marc Van Montagu first invented GM technology. In Europe, the excellent science base showcased again by this important award has come under increasing threat. Misconceptions about biotechnology, due to unscientific scaremongering, have been a main driver of the debate on GMOs in Europe.”

“We are glad to see that some political leaders are starting to address these misconceptions with a view to allowing Europe to join the rest of the world in reaping the benefits of the technology it invented”, added Mrs. Moll.

British environment minister Owen Paterson said today in a speech on GM technology: “While the rest of the world is ploughing ahead and reaping the benefits of new technologies, Europe risks being left behind. We cannot afford to let that happen. The use of GM could be as transformative as the original agricultural revolution was.”

 

ENDS

Notes to the editor:

  • Marc Van Montagu is currently president of the European Federation of Biotechnology and of the Public Research and Regulation Initiative (PRRI), scientific adviser to the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology, Chairman of IPBO, and Emeritus Professor of the Ghent University. Read more on his background: Marc Van Montagu - It Is a Long Way to GM Agriculture (2011)

 

 

For further information, please contact:

Rosalind Travers

Communications Manager, EuropaBio

Tel: +32 2 739 11 73

Mobile: +32 478 68 03 01

Email: r.travers@europabio.org

 

 

About EuropaBio

EuropaBio is the European Association for Bioindustries, bringing together bioscience companies from all fields of research and development, testing, manufacturing and distribution of biotechnology products. It has 56 corporate members, 14 associate members and Bio Regions and 19 National Biotechnology Associations- representing some 1800 small and medium sized enterprises across Europe.