US leadership needed to end world hunger, urge World Food Prize Laureates


A group of 24 World Food Prize winners from across the globe, dedicated to transforming food systems, has urged the new US Administration to lead efforts to end world hunger.  

 group of 24 World Food Prize winners from across the globe, dedicated to transforming food systems, has urged the new US Administration to lead efforts to end world hunger.  

The World Food Prize laureates, including former WorldFish senior research fellow Modadugu V. Gupta, submitted an open letter to the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, calling on the new Biden-Harris administration to help achieve the global goals on food.  

“Dr. Norman Borlaug envisioned a prize to elevate the innovations that would inspire current and future leaders to increase the quality, quantity, and availability of food for everyone,” said Barbara Stinson, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. “At this critical juncture in the US and globally, the laureates’ call to leverage funding, alliances, and leadership on behalf of transforming food systems is timely, focused on the urgency of US action to achieve zero hunger by 2030.” 

World Food Prize Laureates and former WorldFish senior research fellow Modadugu V. Gupta. Photo supplied by the World Food Prize Foundation.

COVID-19 has exacerbated efforts to build food and nutrition security throughout the world. In 2017, the FAO estimated that 3 billion people could not afford a healthy diet. While the world reduced absolute poverty from 2 billion people in 1990 to 800 million people before the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNDP approximates that more than 1 billion people will live in extreme poverty by 2030.  

Former WorldFish biologist and fisheries scientist Gupta joined the call for a strong US commitment to achieving zero hunger by 2030. Gupta was awarded the prestigious prize in 2005 to promote low-cost freshwater aquaculture that helped over 1 million of the world’s poorest people better feed themselves. Every year, the World Food Prize announces a laureate recognized for their inspiring work in improving access to, quality of, or amounts of food globally.

The World Food Prize laureates highlighted three steps critical for tackling hunger:  

Cast a wide-angle lens on our food systems that produce, distribute, process, market, and prepare food. Food systems intertwine hunger, nutrition, food safety, biodiversity, resource use, climate emissions, jobs and livelihoods, and the resilience of families, communities, and economies. We know that improvements in food systems create huge benefits in all of these critical areas.  

Strengthen and leverage our alliances to raise ambitions and find game changers for food. The COVID era is teaching us that the unimaginable is attainable, the unthinkable is in fact, doable: vaccines in under a year; unprecedented economic relief packages; doing global business from home; digitized commerce even in the most fragile settings; unprecedented community solidarity; and increasing the number of people in food safety net programs from 0.6 billion to 2 billion. The returns for imagination and boldness have never been greater.  

Provide leadership for high impact. In September 2021, the UN secretary-general will lead a Food Systems Summit to mobilize global action on hunger. The summit must involve civil society, business, and development agencies to work with governments to achieve action on zero hunger, not just a declaration. In addition, the UN named 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables to catalyze action on nutrition and health. The Nutrition for Growth Summit will be hosted in Tokyo in December this year to address deepening food insecurity and malnutrition globally and the impacts of COVID-19 on donor aid and nutrition targets.  

The World Food Prize laureates called on the Administration of President Biden to:  

  • Re-establish US global leadership to end hunger. 
  • Play a leadership role in the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit and other global initiatives. 
  • Refresh US evidence-based policy and investment to achieve the goal of ending hunger. 
  • Expand the highly successful USAID Feed the Future initiative and Innovation Labs to reach more countries.

List of World Food Prize Laureate signatories calling for U.S. action 

  1. Rattan Lal, Director, OSU Carbon Management & Sequestration Center, 2020 Laureate 
  2. Simon Groot, Foundat, East-West Seed, 2019 Laureate 
  3. Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, 2018 Laureate 
  4. David Nabarro, Strategic Director, 4SD, 2018 Laureate 
  5. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President, African Development Bank, 2017 Laureate 
  6. Maria Andrade, Principal Scientist, Sweetpotato Breeder, CIP, 2016 Laureate 
  7. Howarth Bouis, Founding Director, HarvestPlus, 2016 Laureate 
  8. Jan Low, Principal Scientist, International Potato Center (CIP), 2016 Laureate 
  9. Robert Mwanga, Sweetpotato Breeder, International Potato Center (CIP), 2016 Laureate 
  10. Mary-Dell Chilton, Distinguished Science Fellow, Syngenta, 2013 Laureate 
  11. Robert T. Fraley, Former Executive Vice President & CTO, Monsanto, 2013 Laureate 
  12. David Beckman, President Emeritus, Bread for the World, 2010 Laureate 
  13. Jo Luck, Former President, Heifer International, 2010 Laureate 
  14. Gebisa Ejeta, Director, Purdue Center for Global Food Security, 2009 Laureate  
  15. Robert J. Dole, Former U.S. Senator, 2008 Laureate 
  16. Philip Nelson, Professor Emeritus, Purdue University, 2007 Laureate 
  17. Edson Lobato, Former Technical Director, Embrapa Cerrados, 2006 Laureate 
  18. Alysson Paolinelli, Executive President, Abramiho, 2006 Laureate 
  19. Modadugu V. Gupta, Senior Research Fellow, WorldFish, 2005 Laureate 
  20. Pedro Sanchez, Professor, Tropical Soils, University of Florida, 2002 Laureate 
  21. Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University, 2001 Laureate 
  22. Gurdev Khush, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis, 1996 Laureate 
  23. Hans R. Herren, President, Millennium Institute & Biovision Foundation, 1995 Laureate 
  24. Muhammad Yunus, Chairman, Yunus Centre, 1994 Laureate