Two events at Iowa State University and the University of Iowa kicked off World Food Prize week, with presentations and remarks from each of the World Food Prize laureates.
The laureates, Mary-Dell Chilton, Marc Von Montagu and Monsanto's Dr. Robert Fraley, met with students and faculty at Iowa State University and students and visitors at University of Iowa to discuss biotechnology, genetically modified plants and agriculture.
Fraley focused his remarks on two key points: the benefits of GM crops and how people in agriculture need to do a better job of communicating about GM crops.
"I appreciate the environment here in Iowa to have these conversations," said Fraley. "It's important to have the dialogue, and I'm happy to be here to start the conversation."
As part of his speech, Fraley announced that he will donate his World Food Prize winnings to establish the Fraley-Borlaug Scholars in Plant Science scholarship at the University of Illinois. The fellowship will fund the training of women scientists. Fraley noted that women are underrepresented in the field of biotechnology. Fraley also said he will match the grant with his own donation as will Monsanto. Fraley is a graduate of the University of Illinois.
The grant is "My appreciation to Norman Borlaug's commitment to the next generation of education," Fraley said.
The events were part of the World Food Prize events taking place this week. The universities, the two largest in Iowa, host these lectures each year ahead of the World Food Prize events in Des Moines. The World Food Prize officially starts on Wednesday, October 16, with the Borlaug Dialog, a three-day series of seminars and panels on food security and agriculture.
The three laureates have been chosen as winners of the 2013 World Food Prize for their work in agricultural biotechnology and its contributions to crop improvements.