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The New York Times reports:

"When it comes to agriculture, the World Food Prize is the equivalent of the Oscars. This year, the prestigious award went the mastermind behind Monsanto’s big move into genetically modified crops ... the World Food Prize Foundation said the honor and the $250,000 cash prize would be shared by Robert T. Fraley, Monsanto’s executive vice president and chief technology officer, and two other scientists, Marc Van Montagu of Belgium and Mary-Dell Chilton of the United States.

"The foundation said the work of the three scientists, who helped devise a way to insert foreign genes into plants, led to the development of higher-yielding crops that can resist insects, disease and extremes of climate.

"The prize has some public relations value for Monsanto and other supporters of bioengineered food. But the choice is also likely to add heat to an already intense debate about the role biotechnology can play in combating world hunger."

The story notes that "genetically modified crops are grown on 420 million acres by 17.3 million farmers around the world," but also concedes that "the crops are shunned in many countries and by many consumers, who say the health and environmental effects have not been adequately studied."
KC's View:
Got it.

One of the things that interested me about this prize was the fact that the awards ceremony was hosted, as it has been for the past decade, by the US Department of State, which says it does so because it wants to highlight "the role that science, technology and policy play in reducing hunger and under-nutrition."

But then, as I continued to read up on the prize, I found the following story in Mother Jones, the left wing magazine and website:

"While the US government's involvement might suggest that the prize is a neutral barometer of agricultural excellence, funders of the foundation which backs it have a vested interest in promoting industrialized farming around the world. In fact, many of the World Food Prize's major donors are among the biggest names in agribusiness today.

"Out of 125 donors who contributed more than $500 between fiscal years 2009 and 2011 (the years for which the foundation's tax records are most readily available), 26 were either agribusiness or charities directly affiliated with agribusiness. Together, donations from these companies amounted to more than 28 percent of funds raised for that period, a Mother Jones analysis has found. The combined support of ADM, Cargill, Monsanto, and General Mills alone for this period came to more than a half million dollars."

Yikes.

So it isn't just the crops that are being genetically engineered? Because from the way this sounds, it also appears that the prize is being manipulated a little bit. As, perhaps, are we.