Biotechnology’s Role in the Fight Against World Hunger

As part of the Administration’s fight against world hunger, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined June 11th seven principles that support sustainable of agriculture in rural areas worldwide.  

Speaking at the 2009 World Food Prize Announcement Ceremony (see “Ethiopian Scientist Named 2009 World Food Prize Laureate” below), Clinton said the issue of chronic hunger and food security is at the top of the Administration’s agenda.

“The effects of chronic hunger cannot be overstated. Hunger is not only a physical condition, it is a drain on economic development, a threat to global security, a barrier to health and education, and a trap for the millions of people worldwide who work from sunup to sundown every single day but can barely produce enough food to sustain their lives and the lives of their families,” said Clinton.  “We do have the resources to give every person in the world the tools they need to feed themselves and their children.” 

Seven principles that support sustainable systems of agriculture in rural areas worldwide include:

  • First, we will seek to increase agricultural productivity by expanding access to quality seeds, fertilizers, irrigation tools, and the credit to purchase them and the training to use them.
  • Second, we will work to stimulate the private sector by improving the storage and processing of foods and improving rural roads and transportation so small farmers can sell their fruit, the
    fruits of their labor, at local markets.
  • Third, we are committed to maintaining natural resources so that land can be farmed by future generations and that it help – that includes helping countries adapt to climate change.
  • Fourth, we will expand knowledge and training by supporting R&D and cultivating the next generation of plant scientists.
  • Fifth, we will seek to increase trade so small-scale farmers can sell their crops far and wide.
  • Sixth, we will support policy reform and good governance. We need clear and predictable policy and regulatory environments for agriculture to flourish.
  • And seventh, we will support women and families. Seventy percent of the world’s farmers are women, but most programs that offer farmers credit and training target men. This is both unfair and impractical. An effective agricultural system – (applause) – an effective agricultural system must have incentives for those who do the work, and it must take into account the particular needs of children.  

“Ending hunger, providing food security will bring us together across all the lines that too often divide us, concluded Clinton. “And if we do what we should and are capable of doing, by next year and the years after, when we meet here to award this prize, we’ll be able to mark our progress, and most importantly, the lives of millions of women, men, and children will be the better for our efforts.” 

Learn more about the role biotechnology can play in the fight against world hunger at

Ethiopian Scientist Named 2009 World Food Prize Laureate

The 2009 World Food Prize is awarded to Dr. Gebisa Ejeta of Ethiopia, whose sorghum hybrids resistant to drought and the devastating Striga weed have dramatically increased the production and availability of one of the world’s five principal grains and enhanced the food supply of hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. Gebisa Ejeta will receive the $250,000 World Food Prize on October 15 at the Iowa State Capitol. 

Ejeta entered Purdue in 1974, earning his Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics. He later became a faculty member at Purdue, where today he holds a distinguished professorship. 

By partnering with leaders and farmers across sub-Saharan Africa and educational institutions in the U.S. and abroad, Dr. Ejeta has personally trained and inspired a new generation of African agricultural scientists that is carrying forth his work. 

Dr. Ejeta’s scientific breakthroughs in breeding drought-tolerant and Striga-resistant sorghum have been combined with his persistent efforts to foster economic development and the empowerment of subsistence farmers through the creation of agricultural enterprises in rural Africa. 

He has led his colleagues in working with national and local authorities and nongovernmental agencies so that smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs can catalyze efforts to improve crop productivity, strengthen nutritional security, increase the value of agricultural products, and boost the profitability of agricultural enterprise – thus fostering profound impacts on lives and livelihoods on broader scale across the African continent.