'Godmother of rice' speaks at Gro Brundtland Week series

2017/03/13 20:56:33 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
'Godmother of rice' speaks at Gro Brundtland Week series

Taipei, March 13 (CNA) Yu Su-may (余淑美), a distinguished research fellow of Molecular Biology at Academia Sinica, Taiwan's highest research institute, spoke Monday at the Gro Brundtland Week of Women in Sustainable Development series on how to attain sustainable food production.

Yu, dubbed "godmother of rice" because of her dedicated research on rice genomes, was the winner of Taiwan Outstanding Women in Science in 2014.

She noted that the world population has grown rapidly, but food production has decreased due to extreme weather patterns. Under such circumstances, sustainable food production has become even more important.

She pointed out that sustainable agriculture production could use rapid, efficient, economic genetic engineering to increase production while cutting the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Through rigorous testing of genetically engineered rice on animals, researchers could also increase the nutritional value and prevent contamination by aflatoxin, to meet the needs of the ballooning population.

Her talks attracted a packed audience, mostly students, at Tunghai University in Taichung.

The five winners of this year's Gro Brundtland Award attended Monday's series. They are Fathiah Zakham, an assistant researcher at Hodeidah University in Yemen; Farah Fathima, an assistant professor at India's St. John's Medical College; Phyllis Awor, a post doctoral fellow from Uganda's Makerere University; Wafa Al-Jamal, a prostate cancer research fellow at the United Kingdom's University of East Anglia; and Yen Yi-chun (顏怡君), a research fellow from Singapore's Duke-NUS Medical School.

The Gro Brundtland Week of Women in Sustainable Development kicked off a day earlier at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Tainan with the aim of promoting public interest in sustainable development and honoring female researchers from developing countries and Taiwan.

All five winners attended the opening ceremony and will receive their awards on March 17, according to the Tang Prize Foundation.

The series runs through March 17 and includes lectures and discussions on such topics as women's and children's health, and disease and environmental sustainability.

After NCKU and Tunghai University, the speakers will travel to Tzu Chi University on the east coast, National Taiwan Normal University in the north, and the headquarters of the Tang Prize Foundation.

Brundtland, the winner of the first Tang Prize in sustainable development, often called the "godmother of sustainable development," used the NT$5 million (US$162,114) she received from the Tang Prize to establish the Gro Brundtland Award to recognize distinguished researchers in their field.

The prize requires that candidates must be female, under 40 years old, citizens of a developing country or Taiwan, hold a research doctorate and carry out research related to public health or sustainable development.

(By Chao Li-yen, Lee Hsin-yin and Lilian Wu)
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