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World Food Prize winners.

Former ARS scientists Edward F. Knipling and Raymond C. Bushland have been named the 1992 recipients of The World Food Prize.

Now retired, the two were honored for joint efforts begun more than 50 years ago that gave the world a new and environmentally friendly means to control insect pests. That research has helped sustain vast sources of food sorely needed by the growing world population. It has also prevented untold suffering and losses in both wildlife and human populations.

Says John Ruan, chairman of The World Food Prize Foundation, "This team of visionary scientists dedicated years of relentless scientific research, and cooperative effort with U.S. and world organizations, to improve the world's food supply and human health."

Norman Borlaug, chairman of The World Prize Foundation selection committee, notes especially the ecological compatibility of this innovative and sound insect control method.

Specifically, the award acknowledges development of what is called the sterile insect technique. This technology was originally designed to overcome the devastation to livestock caused by the screwworm, a pest that in its larval form consumes the living flesh of mammals. The biological technique uses no chemicals and does not affect other nontarget insect species.

Instead, it relies on the periodic release of healthy male flies sterilized by exposure to radiation and their mating with native females. Such unions produce no offspring. In time, given the release of sufficient numbers of sterile males to overwhelm native screwworms, the population within a geographic area can be eliminated. (For more details, see Agricultural Research, July 1992, pp. 6-7.)

This sterile fly technique has been used successfully to eradicate screwworms from the United States, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and--most recently--Libya. Control programs are currently under way in Honduras and El Salvador.

Sterile insect technology has also proved effective in controlling the tsetse fly, Mediterranean fruit fly, melon fly, pink bollworm, codling moth, and onion fly. Further advancement and adaptation of this technology offer great hope to farmers and consumers.

The World Food Prize is the largest award given for accomplishment in food and agriculture. Knipling and Bushland will each receive a commemorative sculpture and share a cash award of $200,000.
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Publication:Agricultural Research
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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