Crop Biotech Update

Cornell Alliance for Science Launches Global Conversation to End Hunger

November 25, 2015

The Cornell Alliance for Science converged in the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, on November 17 to launch a global conversation on ending world hunger. The Alliance's 25 newly graduated Global Leadership Fellows mingled with diplomats, journalists, academics, and science allies, sharing the personal stories that prompted them to embrace technological tools in the quest for food security. The Fellows, who represent 10 nations, had just completed a 12-week intensive course on science, communications, and grassroots organizing at Cornell University. They were the first cohorts in a pioneering program conceived by Cornell plant biologist Dr. Sarah Evanega and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"We must use the tools of science to end the disparity we see around the world," Evanega told the crowd of 100 persons assembled at the gala. "I'd like to work toward ensuring that every parent has the opportunity to put warm nutritious food in front of their children three times a day, and that every mother can both feed her children and send them to school."

The Fellows, who returned to their countries this week, will pursue the implementation of campaigns and communication strategies aimed at improving public understanding of the role that biotechnology and science can play in ending hunger.

Among those sharing their personal stories was Fr. Emmanuel C. Alparce of the Philippines, who said that millions of his countrymen are hungry. "I'm here because I believe biotech will improve the lives of my people, especially the farmers," he said.

Nassib Mugwanya spoke of how farmers in his home country of Uganda are suffering from hunger and economic setbacks because plant viruses are ravaging the essential cassava crop. Scientists have genetically engineered cassava to resist these viruses, but political activists have blocked its introduction. "Even though the solution is right in front of us, right within our reach, the legislative climate has not been right for farmers to have this crop on their farms," he said.

Read the original article at Cornell Alliance for Science website. For details, contact Dr. Sarah Davidson Evanega at snd2@cornell.edu.