Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug Program Announces 2011 Winners

Recipients Attend Borlaug Dialogue and World Food Prize

DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, in celebration of the 2011 Borlaug Dialogue and the 25th Anniversary of the World Food Prize, The Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program announced its third set of fellowship recipients.

The 12 recipients are citizens of 7 different countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Syria, and Tunisia. The nine men and three women honored with this year's fellowship will pursue their studies dedicated to improving rice and wheat breeding with sponsoring professors and universities from around the world.

Each recipient receives support to pursue his or her research in one of these two important crops. In rice, recipients' projects include: breeding for water use efficiency and drought resistance, developing high-yielding varieties, characterizing root systems for water scarce conditions, among others. In wheat, recipients' projects include: resistance to parasitic nematodes, identifying and characterization of new stem and leaf rust, molecular breeding to improve yields and quality of wheat varieties, among others.

A complete listing of the winners and their projects is available on the Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program Web page.

The program honors the accomplishments of Dr. Henry Beachell and Dr. Norman Borlaug, who pioneered plant breeding and research in rice and wheat, respectively. In total, the Monsanto Beachell Borlaug International Scholars Program has supported 38 students since its formation in 2009.

The 2011 recipients will be attending the events of the 25th Anniversary of the Borlaug Dialogue and World Food Prize, including the dedication of the Hall of Laureates. The World Food Prize honors outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world.

An independent panel of global judges chaired by Dr. Ed Runge, Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program Director, reviewed the applications. Dr. Runge is also a Professor and Billie B. Turner Chair in Production Agronomy (Emeritus) within the Soil and Crop Sciences Department at Texas A&M University at College Station.

"These students represent the future innovators in agricultural research in two of the world's most important crops," said Dr. Runge. "Drs. Beachell and Borlaug were passionate scientists and it is only fitting that their legacies are inspiring future generations of plant breeders who could have tremendous impact on the welfare of billions of people that rely on rice and wheat for their daily nutrition."

Dr. Ted Crosbie, a vice president with Monsanto Company and long-time plant breeder added, "Plant breeding is both an art and science practiced for thousands of years in agriculture. This program seeks to ignite continued interest in plant breeding within two of the most important crops in the world to help encourage desired characteristics, like larger grain size, heartier stalks, or greater tolerance to environmental stress, among others, to improve the next generation of plants for all of us."

Monsanto is funding the program for five years for a total of $10 million. The program is administered by Texas AgriLife Research, an agency of the Texas A&M University System.

The program will begin accepting applications for 2012 on Nov. 1, 2011. Students interested in applying to the program can find more details at Applications will be accepted until Feb. 1, 2012.