Biotech Updates

2016 World Food Prize Given to Pioneers of Biofortification

June 29, 2016

Drs. Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga, Jan Low, and Howarth Bouis, scientists responsible for improving the health of 10 million rural poor in Africa, Asia, and Latin America were announced on June 28 as the 2016 World Food Prize Laureates during a ceremony at the U.S. State Department.

USAID Administrator Gayle Smith gave keynote remarks and applauded the selection, saying "These four extraordinary World Food Prize Laureates have proven that science matters, and that when matched with dedication, it can change people's lives."

Three of the 2016 laureates -- Dr. Maria Andrade, Dr. Robert Mwanga, and Dr. Jan Low of the International Potato Center (CIP) -- are being honored for developing the single most successful example of biofortification -- the orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP). Dr. Andrade and Dr. Mwanga, plant scientists in Mozambique and Uganda, bred the Vitamin A-enriched OFSP using genetic material from CIP and other sources, while Dr. Low structured the nutrition studies and programs that convinced almost two million households in 10 separate African countries to plant, purchase and consume this nutritionally fortified food.

Dr. Howarth Bouis, founder of HarvestPlus at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), over a 25-year period pioneered the implementation of a multi-institutional approach to biofortification as a global plant breeding strategy. As a result of his leadership, crops such as iron and zinc fortified beans, rice, wheat, and pearl millet, along with Vitamin A-enriched cassava, maize and OFSP are being tested or released in over 40 countries.

2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the World Food Prize by the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug. The World Food Prize is the most prominent global award for individuals whose breakthrough achievements alleviate hunger and promote global food security. This year's $250,000 prize will be divided equally among the four recipients.

For more details, read the news release at the World Food Prize website.