'Golden Rice' Creator Ingo Potrykus to Speak at OARDC May 2

April 18, 2003

WOOSTER, Ohio -- World-renowned scientist Ingo Potrykus, who helped invent beta carotene-enriched "golden rice," is visiting the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center's (OARDC) Wooster campus to speak about biotechnology and world food security, May 2 from 3-4 p.m. in the center's Fisher Auditorium, 1680 Madison Ave. A professor emeritus of plant sciences with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Zürich, Potrykus will present "Golden Rice: The Scientific Challenges Beyond the Basic Pathway Engineering for Provitamin A." The public is welcome. Admission is free. "Golden rice has become synonymous with foods that have medicinal benefits and with the next major steps since the Green Revolution transformed our abilities to feed the developing world," said OARDC Director Steve Slack. "Dr. Potrykus and the Max-Planck Institute are core contributors to this groundbreaking technology." Potrykus has contributed to food security in developing nations by creating and applying genetic-engineering technology to crops such as rice, wheat, sorghum and cassava. He has also worked in the areas of plant disease and pest resistance, improved food quality and increased yield. In July 2000, Potrykus was featured on the cover of Time magazine for his group's efforts in the production of golden rice -- a crop that contains high levels of beta carotene, which gives it a distinct gold color. The grain was produced using gene-transfer technologies and could help overcome vitamin A deficiencies in parts of the world where rice is a staple of the diet. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A after human consumption. According to Potrykus, golden rice could prevent nearly 500,000 children a year from going blind because of vitamin A deficiency and save millions of lives in poor countries. However, different groups opposed to biotechnology have questioned the crop's effectiveness and are concerned about the potential health and environmental risks of such genetically modified foods. Debate on the matter continues. Before joining the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology's Institute of Plant Sciences, where he was a professor between 1987 and 1999, Potrykus worked for the Institute of Plant Physiology at the University of Hohenheim (Germany), was a research leader at the Max-Planck Institute for Plant Genetics (Germany), and established plant genetic-engineering programs at the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel (Switzerland). Among many honors, Potrykus -- born in Hirschberg, Germany, in 1933 -- has received the Kumho Science International Award in Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, the American Society of Plant Biologists' Leadership in Science Public Service Award, the Crop Science of America President's Award, and the European Culture Award in Science. He has also received an honorary doctorate from Sweden's University of Agricultural Sciences. Potrykus is a member of Academia Europaea, the World Technology Network and the Swiss Academy of Technical Sciences. He has authored over 300 publications in refereed journals and obtained 30 international patents. On May 1, Potrykus will deliver another lecture -- "Golden Rice: A Humanitarian Project Meets All the Obstacles of Product Development" -- at Ohio State University's Columbus campus. Sponsored by the College of Biological Sciences, the lecture will he held at the Davis Heart and Lung Auditorium, 473 West 12th Ave., from 3-4:30 p.m. OARDC is the research arm of the Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Note to the Editor: Ingo Potrykus will be available to speak with the media. For details, contact Mauricio Espinoza at (330) 202-3550, espinoza.15@osu.edu.

Author(s): 
Mauricio Espinoza
Source(s): 
Steve Slack