World food prize winner delivers lecture

by Sarah Powell

Dr. Surinder Vasal, the 2000 World Food Prize Winner, delivered a lecture titled “Plant Breeding Challenges for Enhanced Food and Nutritional Security in the 21st Century” on Monday, Oct. 21, 2002.

The forum event was planned at the last minute because the opportunity to have Vasal came up just a few weeks ago.

Vasal is the winner of the international food prize, which is the Nobel Prize of food technology, according to John Epperson, professor of political science.

“We have new challenges, the planet is changing and we need new crops to survive the changes,” said Vasal. “I’m sure over time we’ll overcome all the hurtles we have today.”

The prize was given for Vasal’s research in the developmental improvement of the quality of protein bases in food. While he received his Ph.D. in India, Vasal has spent most of his life in Mexico doing research.

During his lecture Vasal covered what he thinks needs to be done to improve not only the quality of protein sources such as corn and rice but also the quality of the sources. He thinks they would have a tremendous advantage if they could improve the nutritional value of food without affecting the taste.

“He has a lot of good ideas and I think that they’ll have a positive effect on the future,” said senior Mike Graves.

According to Vasal, technology is the biggest part of the survival of crops and the protection of them against outside forces such as diseases and bugs.