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6 February 2009

Van Montagu receives India's Genome Valley Award

TWAS Associate Fellow Marc Van Montagu, Founder and Chairman of the Institute of Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries (IPBO) at Ghent University in Belgium, received the Genome Valley Award 2009 from Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the Chief Minister of the Indian state Andhra Pradesh, during the inaugural ceremony of BioAsia 2009 held at Hyderabad, India, from 1 to 4 February 2009.

Van Montagu co-discovered with the late Prof. Jeff Schell the Ti-plasmid and gene transfer mechanism between Agrobacterium tumefaciens and plants. His discoveries opened a new dimension in the research and development of crop varieties and opened up the field of plant molecular genetics as a tool for sustainable agriculture production. He was the first to pioneer the development of transgenic/biotech crops including tobacco, rapeseed and corn resistant to insect-pests and tolerant to herbicides. His discoveries enable researchers around the world to develop new biotechnology crops that can help farmers to halve insecticide usage, double yield and reduce ploughing to help conserve soil and water.

In his acceptance speech at the Hyderabad International Convention Center, Van Montagu emphasized the importance of agriculture in India. Although it only accounts for 17 percent of the country's GDP, agriculture ensures the livelihood of 600 million people, most of whom are resource-poor farmers and land-less labourers. Biotechnology offers new possibilities in improving the lives of these people. 'Bt brinjal' -- also known as eggplant or aubergine -- is a hope not only for 1.4 million farmers in India, but also for millions of farmers around the world, he said. 

PDF with details about the awarding ceremony can be found on the website of the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology. For more information about biotechnology development in India contact: b.choudhary@cgiar.org or k.gaur@cgiar.org.
 

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