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close this bookFood and Nutrition Bulletin Volume 18, Number 1, 1997 (UNU, 1997, 106 pages)
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View the documentUNU Programme on Food and Nutrition for Human and Social Development

News and notes

2020 Vision Resources Catalogue now available

A complete listing of the materials issued as part of IFPRI's 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment initiative appears in the new 2020 Vision Resources Catalogue. The catalogue contains books, 2020 discussion papers, newsletters, 2020 briefs and syntheses, and three videos that IFPRI produced for the 2020 Vision effort.

Also included in the resources catalogue is IFPRI's 2020 Vision poster. This vivid, full-colour poster displays a striking illustration along with a statement of the 2020 Vision. It is a visual reminder of the urgent need to work towards a world with abundant, sustainably produced food for all. To request a copy of the catalogue or poster, contact IFPRI's Information Program, 1200 Seventeenth St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036-3006, USA; telephone (202) 862-5600; fax (202) 467-4439; e-mail IFPRI@CGNET.COM.

The 1996 World Food Prize

The World Food Prize recognizes outstanding individual achievement in improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food worldwide. A symposium on "Food Security: New Solutions for the Twenty-First Century," commemorating the tenth anniversary of the World Food Prize, was held in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, on 19 October 1996. All former World Food Prize Laureates, as well as world leaders from the public and private sectors, participated. The Symposium provided a unique opportunity for combining the wisdom and experience of the Laureates with the ideas of leading scientists and practitioners to address food security during the twenty-first century.

Henry M. Beachell and Gurdev Singh Khush were jointly awarded the 1996 World Food Prize for developing improved rice varieties that have more than doubled worldwide rice production. Beachell began his career as a rice breeder at a US Department of Agriculture research station in Texas. By the time he left the USDA 32 years later, he had led the development of nine varieties of rice, which constituted the basis for roughly 90% of all US long-grain rice production. In 1963, while at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, he discovered a short, thick-stemmed, sturdy rice plant in an experimental field. Research showed it would respond well to fertilizer applications, mature early, and yield more than traditional varieties. When the new hybrid, called IR8, was released to farmers three years later, Asian agriculture was revolutionized. With good management and irrigation, a farmer planting IR8 could produce four or five tons per hectare, compared with one to two tons using traditional rice varieties. Thus began the "Green Revolution" in rice.

In 1967, Gurdev Singh Khush arrived at IRRI and worked under Beachell's guidance. In less than five years, he was head of IRRI's plant breeding department and had developed his own new variety of "miracle rice." By cross-breeding IR8 with parent varieties from six nations, Khush developed IR36, a variety that proved highly resistant to pests and diseases, matured faster, and produced a slender grain preferred in many Asian countries. This combination soon made IR36 one of the most widely planted food crop varieties the world has ever known. The improved varieties developed under Beachell and Khush are now planted on about 70% of the world's rice-growing land. These varieties feed about 700 million more people than would have been possible with the traditional varieties. As a result of their work, people living in rice-consuming countries are able to dramatically increase and stabilize their food consumption, allowing their families to become more food secure.