The World Food Prize Foundation

2004 Speakers & Transcripts

Bertini | Borlaug | Bouis | Brady | Cantrell | Cleaver | Conway | Harris | Havener | Jones | Khush | Lijun | Longping | Lorenzo |
McCouch | McPherson | Mkandawire | Monde | Nwanze | Prakash | Sanint | Simmons | Sommer | Swaminathan | Tanksley |
Vilsack | von Braun | Walton | Wambugu | Wang | Woteki | Yuan

Hon. Catherine Bertini
Under Secretary-General for Management
The United Nations
2003 World Food Prize Laureate

Catherine Bertini of the United States was appointed by the Secretary-General as Under-Secretary-General for Management on January 1, 2003. Ms. Bertini is responsible for all administrative and managerial matters in the United Nations in New York and worldwide, including the leadership and management of UN senior officials dealing with budget, finance, and human resources. She is charged with implementing the Secretary-General’s reform initiatives including in particular issues relating to the improvement of the status of women in the United Nations. Currently, she also chairs the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition.

Prior to joining the United Nations Secretariat, Ms. Bertini was for ten years Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme, the largest global food agency in the world. While serving as Director, Ms. Bertini made significant achievements in the dual mandate of the agency: to avert starvation in humanitarian crises through emergency operations and to promote long-term development projects aimed at breaking the deeply rooted hunger-poverty cycle. Ms. Bertini is the recipient of the 2003 World Food Prize for her critical leadership of the United Nations World Food Programme.

Before her work with the World Food Programme, Ms. Bertini worked in the United States Government. She was Assistant Secretary for Food and Consumer Services in the Department of Agriculture and Acting Assistant Secretary of the Family Support Administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

She graduated from State University of New York at Albany and was a fellow of the Institute of Politics in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She has received honorary doctorates from the State University of New York, McGill University in Montreal, and Pine Manor College in Boston.

Dr. Norman E. Borlaug
Founder, The World Food Prize
1970 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

In 1970 Norman E. Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for a lifetime of work to feed a hungry world. Although a scientist with outstanding contributions, perhaps Dr. Borlaug's greatest achievement has been his unending struggle to integrate the various streams of agricultural research into viable technologies and to convince political leaders to bring these advances to fruition.

Born of Norwegian descent, Dr. Borlaug was raised in Cresco, a small farming community in northeast Iowa. He learned his work ethic on a small mixed crop and livestock family farm and obtained initial education in a one-room rural school house.

His skills as an athlete (mainly in wrestling) opened the door for him to attend the University of Minnesota, where he studied to be a forester, wrestled, and worked various odd jobs. After graduating in 1937 with a BS in Forestry, he went to work for the United States Forest Service, initially in Idaho and later in Massachusetts and Connecticut. He returned to graduate school at the University of Minnesota, and took up the study of plant pathology, receiving his Ph.D. in 1942. Dr. Borlaug then worked as a Microbiologist for E.I. Dupont de Nemours, until being released from his wartime service.

In 1944, Dr. Borlaug participated in the Rockefeller Foundation's pioneering technical assistance program in Mexico, where he was a research scientist in charge of wheat improvement. For the next sixteen years, he worked to solve a series of wheat production problems that were limiting wheat cultivation in Mexico and to help train a whole generation of young Mexican scientists.

The work in Mexico not only had a profound impact on Dr. Borlaug's life and philosophy of agriculture research and development, but also on agricultural production, first in Mexico and later in many parts of the world.

It was on the research stations and farmers' fields of Mexico that Dr. Borlaug developed successive generations of wheat varieties with broad and stable disease resistance, broad adaptation to growing conditions across many degrees of latitude, and with exceedingly high yield potential. These new wheat varieties and improved crop management practices transformed agricultural production in Mexico during the 1940's and 1950's and later in Asia and Latin America, sparking what today is known as the "Green Revolution."


Dr. Howarth Bouis


Dr. Howarth Bouis is the Director of HarvestPlus, where he coordinates an interdisciplinary, global alliance of research centers and implementing agencies to biofortify and disseminate micronutrient-dense staple food crops and to measure their impact in improving nutrition. Since 1993, he has sought to promote biofortification activities both within the Future Harvest Centers, including their NARES partners, and in the human nutrition community -- through publications, seminars, workshops, symposiums, and fundraising.

As Director of HarvestPlus, Dr. Bouis holds a joint appointment at the International Food Policy Research institute (Washington, D.C.) and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (Cali, Colombia). His past research has concentrated on understanding how economic factors affect food demand and nutrition outcomes, particularly in Asia. Howarth Bouis received his B.A. in Economics from Stanford University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University's Food Research Institute.


Dr. Nyle Brady
Emeritus Professor, Cornell University
Former Director General
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)


Dr. Nyle C. Brady earned his BS in chemistry from Brigham Young University in 1941 and his Ph.D. in soil science from North Carolina State University in 1947. He was on the faculty of Cornell University from 1947 to 1973 and is currently Emeritus Professor there. He was director general of IRRI from 1973 to 1981 and senior assistant administrator for science and technology at USAID from 1981 to 1989. He has also served as senior international development consultant for the United Nations Development Programme, Washington, DC.


Dr. Ronald Cantrell
Director General
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)


Dr. Cantrell is a known plant breeder and geneticist with extensive experience in international agriculture. As a distinguished researcher and professor, he has received many awards and honors, including his election in 1998 as president of the Crop Science Society of America, of which he is a fellow. He is also a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy.

Dr. Cantrell began his career as a maize breeder and manager for the Cargill Corn Research Station in Seward, Nebraska, where he was responsible for developing maize hybrids from 1971 to 1975. He then went to Purdue University, where he was associate professor of agronomy (1975-81) and professor of agronomy (1981-82). He taught genetics to more than 3,000 students and conducted sorghum breeding research. As chief-of-party and agronomist, Dr. Cantrell worked with the Purdue University Farming Systems Team in Burkina Faso, where he was responsible for conducting on-farm research from 1982 to 1984.

Dr. Cantrell joined the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico in 1984. He was director of the Maize Program and responsible for an international staff of 50 scientists and an annual budget of $9 million. From its headquarters in Mexico and nearly 20 outreach locations around the developing world, the Maize Program developed improved germplasm and provided training and advice to 55 national agricultural research systems. In 1990, Dr. Cantrell became professor of plant breeding and head of the Agronomy Department at Iowa State University.

Dr. Cantrell, born in Shamrock, Texas, attended Texas Tech University, receiving his BSc in agronomy in 1966. He earned his M.Sc. (1969) and Ph.D. (1970) from Purdue University in plant breeding and genetics. He has co-authored many scientific books and journal articles. He won s


Dr. Kevin Cleaver
Director, Agriculture and Rural Development Program
The World Bank


Dr. Kevin Cleaver assumed his current position as the World Bank’s Director for Agriculture and Rural Development in March 2002. Dr. Cleaver represents the World Bank on the Executive Committee of the CGIAR. He also heads the effort in the World Bank’s Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Network to create an effective system of knowledge sharing, knowledge management and staff learning.

    From 1992 to 1997, he was Technical Director of the Bank's Africa Region and Manager of that Region's Knowledge Center. From 1987 to 1992, he managed the West African agricultural division of the World Bank. From 1982 to 1987, he headed the Nairobi-based agricultural section covering several East African countries. From 1976 to 1982 Dr. Cleaver worked as an agricultural economist for the World Bank in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Yugoslavia. Prior to joining the Bank, he was an economist in the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Zaire.

Dr. Cleaver received a B.A. in International Relations and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. He also received an M.A. and Ph.D. in Development/International Economics from Tufts University.


Gordon Conway
Rockefeller Foundation


Gordon Conway is the 12th president of the Rockefeller Foundation. Among his most notable accomplishments, Dr. Conway is credited with focusing the Foundation more explicitly on the problems faced by poor people around the world who have been excluded from the benefits of globalization. The Foundation's approach to current global challenges focuses on poor people's daily existence - their lives and livelihoods - and how the process of globalization can be turned to their advantage.

The Foundation has played a lead role in incubating and strengthening several major philanthropic initiatives targeting the poor in recent years. This includes the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, a new public-private partnership designed to resolve some of the barriers to African farmers gaining access to new technologies; Living Cities, an initiative that is investing in affordable housing and commercial development in U.S. 23 cities; and, the first continent-wide program in Africa to bring anti-retroviral drugs to low-income HIV-positive mothers.

Conway, a world renowned agricultural ecologist, has worked and lived in numerous countries including India, Malaysia and Thailand. He pioneered integrated pest management in Borneo (Malaysia), developed agroecosystems analysis in Thailand and was one of the first to define the concept of sustainable agriculture -- a field that is critical to successful development of poor countries.

He was educated at the Universities of Wales, Cambridge, Trinidad and California. Conway was a professor of environmental technology at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London and served as the vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex and chair of the Institute for Development Studies.


Tiffin Harris
Impact Management International


Mr. Harris has been involved in the business of agricultural research and development for nearly 30 years, 24 of which have been spent overseas. He began his international career with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, holding a series of progressively more responsible positions, including a four year stint Director of External Relations for four years. In 1999, he joined the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya, as the Center’s Director of Corporate Services, a position he held until mid-2004.

A graduate of Colorado State and Oregon State Universities, Mr. Harris is trained as an agricultural economist, and his professional efforts have focused primarily on international and rural development. He recently established a consulting business (Impact Management International) that is geared toward providing communications, fund-raising, and management support to a range of international agricultural research organizations and NGOs whose goals are to make significant, positive differences in the lives of the poor in developing countries. Clients currently include the MDG Technical Support Centre, the World Agroforestry Centre, and Heifer International.


Robert Havener
World Food Prize Council of Advisors


Mr. Havener holds academic degrees in agricultural sciences from The Ohio State University, and public administration and development economics from Harvard University. From 1954 through 1961 he served as a member of the College of Agriculture, The Ohio State University.

For some 15 years he was a senior agricultural program officer for the Ford Foundation serving in the Asia and Pacific Region, The Middle East, and the Foundation’s offices in New York. In 1978 he was appointed Director General of the International Center of Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) in Mexico, and later as interim Director General of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia, and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in The Philippines. He also served as Project Development Officer for the establishment of The International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas, (ICARDA) in the Central and West Asia and North Africa Region and the International Livestock Research Center, (ILCA), located in Nairobi, Kenya.

He is President Emeritus of Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development and has received numerous awards for his contributions to international agricultural development including honorary Doctors degrees from the University of Arkansas and the Ohio State University.

Dr. Monty P. Jones
Executive Secretary
Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)
2004 World Food Prize Laureate

Born in Sierra Leone, Monty Jones began his career in 1975 with the West Africa Rice Development Agency (WARDA) in its Mangrove Swamp Rice Research Project in Rokupr in his home country. WARDA is one of the 16 international research centers sponsored by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) of the World Bank.

Following a variety of assignments, in 1991 Dr. Jones was appointed Head of the Upland Rice Breeding Program at WARDA, then located in Côte d’Ivoire. It was in this position that he made his exceptional breakthrough achievement in combining Asian and African rice varieties to develop a new rice, uniquely suited to poor African rice farmers.

Working closely with colleagues at WARDA and the CGIAR system, he discovered the genetic process by which a “New Rice for Africa” (NERICA) was developed, producing plants with higher yields, shorter growing cycles, and more protein than either of its parents.

This work has led to the rapid development of more than 3000 NERICA lines. Dr. Jones and WARDA, worked on multiple levels to ensure the widest possible use of this new improved rice. Using gender sensitive approaches, they brought together farmers, scientists, extension workers, NGOs, and governments to create a “community based seed system” whereby local farmers can choose which NERICA variety best fits with their local needs.

“In many ways, Monty Jones’s vision and tireless efforts represent a model for future generations of African scientists,” commented Gordon Conway, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, in a letter of support. “His ability to combine cutting edge science with on-farm work have yielded significant benefits for the many poor rice farmers in Africa that were by-passed by the Green Revolution.”

Dr. Jones is a graduate of the University of Sierra Leone and received both his M.Sc. in Plant Genetic Resources (1979) and his Ph.D. in Plant Biology (1983) from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. In 2002, he was appointed the Executive Secretary of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), based in Ghana.


Dr. Gurdev Khush
University of California-Davis
1996 World Food Prize Laureate

Dr. Gurdev Khush is one of the world's authorities on crop breeding and a major force behind the development of productive rice varieties and the Green Revolution in plant breeding.

Dr. Khush joined the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in 1967 after postdoctoral studies at UC- Davis on tomato breeding. At IRRI, he became principal plant breeder and head of the Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biochemistry Division, leading IRRI to the forefront in the improvement of rice varieties. Prior to the beginning of the Green Revolution, varieties of rice took 6-7 months to mature and yielded about 1-2 tons per hectare. Dr. Khush modified the plant by reducing its height, shortening maturing time, and increasing response to fertilizers. Under optimal conditions, these plants can yield up to 10 tons per hectare.

Among the honors received by Dr. Khush are the Japan Prize (1987), World Food Prize (1996) and the Wolf Prize for Agriculture (2000). Dr. Khush received his Ph.D. From UC-Davis in 1960. Currently, he has returned to California where he continues his work on developing more productive food resources.


H.E. Lan Lijun
Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission
Chinese Embassy, Washington DC


Minister Lan Lijun is currently the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. Prior to his current position he served as Consul General in Los Angeles. From 1998-2000 he was the Counselor and then Deputy Director General in the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs (DNAO) for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Beijing.

Additionally, he has served as First Secretary of DNAO, MFA; Deputy Director and then First Secretary, Department of Latin America and Caribbean Affairs, MFA; Vice Consul and then Consul, Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Vancouver, Canada; Third Secretary, Department of American and Oceanian Affairs, MFA; Attaché, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Trinidad and Tobago; and as a staff member in the personnel department of MFA.

Minister Lan Lijun graduated from Beijing Foreign Languages Institute in China. From 1974-1976 he completed his graduate study at Queens & McGill Universities, Canada. He received as Masters in Public Administration from John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


Hon. Luis P. Lorenzo
Presidential Advisor for Jobs Creation
and Countryside Development
The Philippines


Secretary Luis P. Lorenzo was appointed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to deliver one million jobs as Presidential Adviser on Job Creation in 2001. His successful 15-month stint in the Million Jobs Program led to the generation of 1,080,363 new direct and indirect jobs, mostly in the countryside.

President Arroyo selected Sec. Lorenzo to lead the massive implementation of hybrid and certified seed production program. Particularly, Gloria Hybrid Rice resulted to a 94% rice sufficiency for the country.

The Chinese scientific community cited Lorenzo for being the prime mover of hybrid rice technology in the Philippines.

Previously, he helped run his family business Mindanao in 1981. He also led several globally competitive agri-food businesses such as Lapanday Foods Corp. – one of the world’s biggest suppliers of bananas, Del Monte Philippines – a major player in the highly successful Philippine pineapple industry, and Del Monte Pacific Ltd. – a publicly listed firm in Singapore and recognized as one of the top 5 organizations in terms of governance.

Luis Lorenzo graduated with honors in Business Management in the Honors program of Ateneo and obtained a Master’s degree in International Business at the Wharton School, of the University of Pennsylvania.


Dr. Susan McCouch
Associate Professor of Plant Breeding
Cornell University


The focus of Dr. McCouch’s research program is to develop and apply molecular tools for rice improvement. An area of special interest is in the efficient management and utilization of rice germplasm.

Dr. McCouch is on an international team specializing in the rice genome, headed up by Sue Wessler at the University of Georgia and including colleagues at Washington University and in Japan. As experts in rice breeding, McCouch’s lab investigated the mobility of the transposon known as the Ping-Pong MITE in the rice germplasm and interpreted the significance of the related pattern of polymorphism which suggested that the Ping-Pong element has been active since the domestication of Oryza sativa. Their finding has important evolutionary and practical implications in terms of how genetic diversity is generated in the rice genome.

At Cornell University Dr. McCouch teaches Introduction to Plant Breeding, Problems and Perspectives in Computational Molecular Biology and contributes to Agriculture in the Developing Nations. She also participates in a number of Cornell Theory Center’s (CTC) outreach programs and is Co-PI with CTC outreach manager Margaret Corbit on a grant from the National Science Foundation to design and evaluate an experimental exhibit, "Jumping Genes," for CTC’s online virtual science museum, SciCentr.
As an undergraduate, she studied Hispanic literature at the University of Barcelona-until returning to the United States, where she finished her degree. Dr. McCouch then earned her Ph.D. from Cornell University.


M. Peter McPherson
President, Michigan State University
Chair, BIFAD
Co-Chair, The Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa


Mr. McPherson graduated from Michigan State University receiving a B.A. in political science. He later received his M.B.A. from Western Michigan University, and his J.D. from American University Law School. While President of Michigan State University, McPherson has worked with the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and students to ensure that MSU remains affordable and accessible to students from all walks of life.

Mr. McPherson’s position’s before Michigan State University included Group Executive Vice President, Investment Management Group Bank of America; Group Executive Vice President, Latin America and Canada Division, CEO; Executive Vice President, Global Debt Restructuring Administration; Deputy Secretary of Treasury Department; Administrator, Agency for International Development; Chairman of the Board, Overseas Private Investment Corporation; Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease; The White House, Special Assistant to the President Ford and Deputy Director, Presidential Personnel Office; and the Internal Revenue Service.

Currently, Mr. McPherson serves as chair on the Board of the International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) and also serves as one of 25 members of a Kellogg Commission national committee devoted to studying the future of higher education.


Dr. Richard Mkandawire
Agricultural Advisor
New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)


Dr. Mkandawire is a is a socio-economist. He is a graduate of the University of Malawi (Bachelor of Social Science), University of Missouri, Columbia (M.A., and M.Sc.),University of East Anglia, UK (Ph.D.).

He is currently the NEPAD advisor on agriculture. He comes from both an academic and a development practitioner’s background. Dr. Mkandawire has previously taught in the Universities of Malawi, Zambia, and Venda in South Africa. He has also served as an external examiner in a number of universities within Southern and East Africa. Between 1992 and 1999 he worked with the Commonwealth Secretariat as the Commonwealth Youth Programme Regional Director for Africa.

Dr. Mkandawire has extensive experience in development initiatives in Southern Africa spanning a period of two decades. Over the years he has undertaken a wide range of research and consultancy in such varied areas as: food policy and agriculture, gender and development, irrigation development, youth policy analysis and development, artisan fisheries and development, land tenure systems and agrarian development, youth and reproductive health, youth livelihoods and employment etc. He has in the process written and published extensively in these and other areas.

Besides his current position and other affiliations , Richard Mkandawire is also a member of the Technical advisory board of the Global Environmental Change and Food Systems. (GECAFS).


H.E. Sama S. Monde
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food Security
Sierra Leone


In the course of the past 14 years Dr. Monde has been involved in almost all areas of agricultural research and development in Sierra Leone: in policy formulations, planning and implementation of agricultural development projects. He has been associated with most of the major players in the agricultural sector in the country, from the farmers to the Ministry of Agriculture to NGOs and donor community. In 2001 Dr. Monde became a member of both the Sierra Leone National Standards Bureau (SLNSB) and the National Council on Science and Technology.

Dr. Monde has also served as national counterpart to a number of foreign-funded collaborative projects. From 1986-88 he served at Rokupr as research officer in Plant Breeding and later rose to Deputy Director in December 1988. Rokupr is one the strongest institutions in rice research in the West African region.

Dr. Monde received his Bachelor of Science (Summa Cum Laude/ First class) in Biological Sciences, and with an Education minor at Njala University College in Njala, Sierra Leone. He then received his M.Sc. in Agricultural Botany (Plant Breeding and Genetics) at the University of Wales/Welsh Plant Breeding Station in Aberystwyth, Wales, Britain and his Ph.D. in Agronomy and Plant Genetics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.


Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze
Director General
West African Rice Development Association ( WARDA)

Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze has close to 30 years of extensive experience in international agricultural research, research management, and development work in Sub-Saharan Africa (Anglophone and Francophone countries) and Asia with the centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

Nwanze is a member of several scientific associations and a board member of several Africa-based institutions. In 2001, he was conferred with the title Commander of the National Order of Merit of Cote d'Ivoire in recognition of his outstanding leadership of WARDA and service to the West African subregion. Nwanze holds a B.Sc. in agricultural biology from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in entomology from Kansas State University, USA.

Dr. V. Prakash
Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI)


Dr. Prakash had early education at University of Mysore and received his Ph.D. degree in 1976. After Post doctoral fellowship during 1976 to 1980 at Texas Medical Centre at Houston and Brandeis University, Boston, he returned to India during 1981 as a Pool officer of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research at the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) and rose to the position of Director of CFTRI, Mysore during 1994 and continues in that position.

He is credited with steering the CFTRI to higher levels of science, technology and in disseminating appropriate technologies to producer and grower on one hand, and tiny and small entrepreneurs on the other hand with a focus on economic upliftment and employment generation by promoting adaptable technologies with a sustainability built into it.

Among the many awards he has received are the prestigious National Science award of India, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize in the field of Biological Sciences, and the PADMA SHRI awarded to him by the President of India in recognition of his outstanding service to the Nation in the field of Science and Engineering.


Dr. Luis Sanint
Executive Director
Latin American Fund for Irrigated Rice (FLAR)


Dr. Luis Sanint was a leader of the Rice Program at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and as private consultant to several organizations including CIAT, OECD, FEDEARROZ, and CGIAR/TAC just to name a few. He was the Advisor to the Colombian Minister of Agriculture in 1993 where he studied the effects of macro policies on profitability of agricultural activities. Dr. Sanint was also the Economist for CIAT and completed studies on adoption, impact, demand, constraints to technology adoption and rice production in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Dr. Sanint received his B.S. in Economics from the Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia, in 1974. Then he earned his Master of Agriculture from Texas A&M University, 1976, He continued at Texas A&M University to gain a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics with a major Finance and minor in Production Economics in 1980. His dissertation was Lender's credit responses to farm income risks in Texas: a multiperiod risk programming analysis of credit reserves.


Emmy B. Simmons
Assistant Administrator,
Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)


The Honorable Emmy B. Simmons was sworn in on April 2, 2002, as Assistant Administrator for economic growth, agriculture and trade of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

A member of the Senior Foreign Service, Simmons has more than 30 years experience in international agriculture and economic development. Since 1997 she has served as USAID deputy assistant administrator in the former Bureau for Global Programs, Research and Field Support, where she headed the Center for Economic Growth and Agricultural Development. From 1994 to 1997, Simmons was senior program officer for USAID's mission in Moscow where she oversaw an aid portfolio of more than $1 billion. From 1991 to 1994, she served in USAID's regional office for east and southern Africa as supervisory program economist. Simmons also has served as supervisory agricultural officer for Mali and as regional agricultural advisor for West Africa, in addition to holding a number of supervisory positions in the Africa Bureau in USAID's Washington headquarters.

Ms. Simons is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has a master's degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University, where she won the prestigious American Association of Agricultural Economics award for best master's thesis.


Dr. Alfred Sommer
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


Dr. Sommer is Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Professor of Ophthalmology, Epidemiology, and International Health at Johns Hopkins University. Sommer received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School (1967) and his Master of Health Science in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (1973). He has published 5 books and over 300 scientific articles; has received numerous awards including the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Research, the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize, and the Duke Elder International Gold Medal for Contributions to Ophthalmology; has delivered over 30 named lectureships; and is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. His research interests include micronutrient malnutrition, child survival, blindness prevention, and the interface between public health and clinical medicine.


Dr. M. S. Swaminathan
M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation
1987 World Food Prize Laureate

Taskforce Transcript

Professor M. S. Swaminathan has been acclaimed by TIME magazine as one of the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century and one of the only three from India, the other two being Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He has been described by the United Nations Environment Programme as "the Father of Economic Ecology" and by Javier Perez de Cuellar, former Secretary General of the United Nations, as "a living legend who will go into the annals of history as a world scientist of rare distinction".
A plant geneticist by training, Professor Swaminathan's contributions to the agricultural renaissance of India have led to his being widely referred to as the scientific leader of the Green Revolution movement. His advocacy of sustainable agriculture leading to an ever-green revolution makes him an acknowledged world leader in the field of sustainable food security. The International Association of Women and Development conferred on him the first international award for significant contributions to promoting the knowledge, skill, and technological empowerment of women in agriculture and for his pioneering role in mainstreaming gender considerations in agriculture and rural development. Professor Swaminathan was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1971, the Albert Einstein World Science Award in 1986, and the first World Food Prize in 1987.

Professor Swaminathan is a Fellow of many of the leading scientific academies of India and the world, including the Royal Society of London and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He has received 46 honorary doctorate degrees from universities around the world. He currently holds the UNESCO Chair in Ecotechnology at the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai (Madras), India and Chairman of the National Commission on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security of India.


Dr. Steven Tanksley
Cornell University


Dr. Steven D. Tanksley is the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Plant Breeding and chair of the Genomics Initiative Task Force at Cornell University. He is one of two scientists (along with Professor Yuan Longping) to share the prestigious 2004 Wolf Foundation Prize in Agriculture for "innovative development of hybrid rice and discovery of the genetic basis of heterosis in this important food staple." He also is principal investigator for the Solgenes database, which contains mapping and related information for the Solanaceae - tomato, potato, eggplant, and bell pepper.

In 1993, Dr. Tanksley was among a team of Cornell scientists who successfully cloned the first gene for disease resistance in tomato, using a technique known as map-based cloning developed for the Human Genome Project. This research opened the possibility of cloning similar resistance genes in other plant species.

Dr. Tanksley received a bachelor's degree in agronomy from Colorado State University in 1976 and a doctorate in genetics from the University of California-Davis in 1979. Before coming to Cornell, he was an assistant professor at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. He joined the faculty of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell in 1985 as an associate professor of plant breeding, was named a professor in 1994 and a Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the same year. Dr. Tanksley was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1995 and is also the recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Award and the Martin Gibbs Medal of the American Society of Plant Physiology.


Thomas Vilsack
Governor of the State of Iowa


The Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, orphaned at birth, and adopted in 1951. He received a bachelor's degree from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York in 1972, and received a law degree from Albany Law School in 1975. Vilsack was elected mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa in 1987, and was elected to the Iowa Senate in 1992. In 1998 he was elected Iowa's first Democratic governor in more than 30 years, and was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2002.

A top priority of the Governor’s administration has been to improve education opportunities. Governor Vilsack led the effort to provide funding for reduced class sizes in the early grades of elementary school, and as a result, Iowa’s fourth-graders placed among the best in the nation in math and science progress, and reversed an eight-year decline in reading test scores, with increases in each of the last three years. He has worked to make Iowa a national leader in children’s health care coverage, with 94% of all Iowa children having health insurance.

Governor Vilsack is the Chair of the Democratic Governors’ Association and a member of the National Governors’ Association Executive Committee. He is the former Chair of the national Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program, a founding member and former Chair of the Governors Biotechnology Partnership, the former Chair of the Ethanol Coalition, and the Chair of the Midwest Governor’s Conference. He and his wife Christie have two sons.


Dr. Joachim von Braun
Director General
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)


Professor Joachim von Braun is Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Before he was appointed in 2002, he was Director of the Center for Development Research and Head of the Center’s Department for Economics and Technological Change, and Professor at the University of Bonn in Germany.

His research and policy work focuses on poverty reduction, on technological innovation, and on governance and trade policies. Dr. von Braun serves on boards of international institutes, was President (2000–2003) of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE), and an advisor to international organizations and the private sector. He is a member of the UNESCO Council for the Future and of the Millennium Task Force on Hunger.

Recent academic books by Dr. von Braun address issues of poverty and famine in Africa, Biotechnology in developing countries, transformation of Russia’s agriculture, the future of villages and agricultural commercialization, and economic development. Dr. von Braun earned his Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Göttingen in Germany.


Dr. Mark Walton
Executive Vice-President, Research & Technology
RiceTec, Inc.


Dr. Mark Walton joined RiceTec, Inc. as the Director of Biotechnology in May 2000 and became Executive Vice-President of Research and Technology in 2002. Prior to joining RiceTec, Dr. Walton worked as the Manager of Business Strategies for Celera AgGen, an agricultural biotechnology firm that develops and sells DNA-based products and services. From 1991 through 1997 he was the President of Linkage Genetics, a molecular marker service company he co-founded in 1990. Dr. Walton began his career as an alfalfa breeder in 1979 and has worked in agricultural biotechnology since 1984, holding positions in research, business development, marketing, and sales.

Dr. Walton received his Bachelor of Science in Agronomy from New Mexico State University and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the University of Nebraska.


Dr. Florence Wambugu
Executive Director
A Harvest Biotech Foundation International


Dr. Florence Muringi Wambugu is an agricultural plant pathologist with specialization in virology and genetic engineering for viral diseases crop protection. She has been awarded "Woman of the Year” recognition by the American Biographical Institute. Under her leadership, the Biotech Tissue Banana Project – which has positively impacted over 500,000 small-scale farmers in Kenya – won the World Bank Global Development Network Award.

She is a member of the Private Sector Committee (PSC) of CGIAR, DuPont Biotech Advisory Panel-USA, Board of Trustees IPGRI and is the Vice-chair of the African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum (ABSF). She also participates in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the United Nations Hunger Task Force (UN-HTF).

Her Post-doctoral fellowship involved the initial development work on the Genetically Modified (GM) sweet potato; the project produced transgenic virus resistant sweet potato currently being tested in Kenya. This also paved way for the training of several African scientists in gene-technology.


Dr. Ren Wang
Deputy Director General for Research
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)


Dr. Wang was a researcher at the Institute of Biological Control of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences during 1985-1993, working on biological control of insect pests and weeds. From 1993 to 1995, he was the Deputy Director, Programme Development of the International Institute of Biological Control (IIBC), CAB International, Silwood Park, Ascot, Berks, UK.

From 1996 to January 2000, he was Vice President of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), responsible for international relations, strategic research planning and supervision of 6 of the 38 research institutes of the Academy. Dr. Wang joined IRRI in mid January 2000 as the Deputy Director General for Research.

Dr. Wang was elected as a member of the Council for the International Congress of Entomology at the XX International Congress, Florence, Italy. He was a member of the United Nation’s FAO/UNEP Panel of Experts on Integrated Pest Control and Resistance Breeding (1991-95), a member of International Organization for Biological Control, and Vice-Chairman of the IOBC Asia and Pacific Regional Section from 1998 to present. Dr. Wang finished his Ph.D. in Entomology in 1985 at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

Dr. Catherine E. Woteki
College of Agriculture
Iowa State University

Dr. Catherine Woteki was appointed Dean, College of Agriculture and Director, Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station, Iowa State University on January 1, 2002. In addition, she served as Interim Director of the newly-formed Institute for Food Safety and Security at Iowa State from November, 2002 to June 30, 2003.

She holds rank of Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Dr. Woteki is a registered dietitian and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Science. She is serving a three-year term as chair of the Institute’s Food and Nutrition Board. Her research interests include food safety and nutrition policy, chronic disease prevention, and population health surveillance and monitoring.

A nutritional epidemiologist, she served from August 1997 until January 2001 as the first Under Secretary for Food Safety in the U.S. Department of Agriculture where she was responsible for development of U.S. food safety policies through the work of the President’s Council on Food Safety and the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and for the safety of meat, poultry and egg products under the regulatory authority of the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Under Dr. Woteki’s direction, FSIS implemented the science-based inspection system known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), which resulted in major declines in the occurrence of pathogens in meat and poultry products.

Dr. Woteki received the Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry from Mary Washington College (1969), and Master of Science (1971) and Doctor of Philosophy (1974) degrees in human nutrition form Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


Yuan Longping
Director General
China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center
2004 World Food Prize Laureate


Born in Peking, Yuan Longping graduated from Southwest Agricultural College in China in 1953, and then was assigned to teach crop genetics and breeding at an agricultural school in Hunan Province. He began his research in hybrid rice development in 1964 and subsequently was transferred to the Hunan Academy of Agricultural Sciences in 1971 to serve as a research professor. It was there, two years later, that he achieved a major scientific breakthrough as he successfully developed the genetic materials essential for breeding high-yielding hybrid rice varieties.

Professor Yuan is widely acknowledged for the discovery of the genetic basis of heterosis in rice—a phenomenon in which the progeny of two distinctly different parents grow faster, yield more, and resist stress better than either parent. In developing his “three-line system” of hybrid rice, Professor Yuan and his team soon produced a commercial hybrid rice variety called Nan-you No. 2, which was released in 1974. With yields 20 percent higher than previous varieties, Professor Yuan’s new crop immediately began to improve food availability in China.

In the three decades following his breakthrough achievement, planting of this new crop has spread so widely, so that now almost half of China’s rice production area is planted in hybrid rice with a 20 percent higher yield over previous varieties. This translates into food to feed approximately 60 million more people per year in China alone.

Professor Yuan’s distinguished life’s work has caused many to call him the “Father of Hybrid Rice,” while his continuing research offers even more promise for world food security and adequate nutrition for the world’s poor.

Professor Yuan’s remarkable achievements in hybrid rice research have previously won him numerous awards and honors, including China’s State Supreme Science and Technology Award, the 2001 Magsaysay Award, the UN FAO Medal of Honor for Food Security, and the 2004 Wolf Prize in Agriculture.

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