Ethiopian geneticist Gebisa Ejeta of Purdue University was honored with the 2009 World Food Prize for developing strains of sorghum that are resistant to drought and the parasitic weed Striga. The prize was established in 1986 by agronomist and ACSH founding trustee Dr. Norman Borlaug, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his production of a high-yield variety of wheat, which marked the beginning of the Green Revolution and has saved some 1 billion lives to date.
Striga has been a considerable bane of African agriculture. Having discovered the bio-chemical basis of Striga's parasitic relationship with sorghum, [Ejeta] produced many sorghum varieties resistant to drought and to Striga with yields ten times greater than local varieties, explains Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation.
Environmentalists should be applauding this achievement, since it uses less land, water, and pesticides to grow the same amount of crops and therefore aids conservation efforts, says ACSH's Jeff Stier.
ACSH's Dr. Ruth Kava adds: It could also allow farmers, especially sustenance farmers, to save money by using less herbicide against Striga, for those fortunate enough to have access to herbicide.
This is something that people across the spectrum from the left to the right should be celebrating, says Stier. Even so, ACSH staffers doubt that we'll hear any endorsements of this lifesaving research from the anti-chemical activists at Greenpeace and similar groups.