ST. LOUIS — The world's top plant scientists kicked off a weeklong meeting Monday aimed at improving global food security.
An estimated 1,300 scientists were expected to attend the International Plant Molecular Biology Congress, which hasn't been to the U.S. in 20 years.
Those attending have expertise in plant genetics, evolution and physiology, Perry Gustafson, an MU adjunct professor who is heading this year's gathering, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Much of their research centered on global food security, he said.
This year's congress is dedicated to scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, who developed a type of wheat that helped feed the world and fostered a movement that saved 1 billion people from starvation. Borlaug died last month at 95 in Dallas.
The U.N. food agency reported this month that a record one billion people worldwide are hungry, and that the number will increase if governments do not spend more on agriculture. It said 30 countries now require emergency aid, including 20 in Africa.
A panel on feeding the planet under the challenges of climate change will be hosted by MU, featuring the Missouri Botanical Garden's director, Peter Raven, and scientists from Kenya, Australia and Austria.
Other panels will address drought, Chinese medicine and a cancer cure, and the challenge of doubling food production over the next 20 years to keep pace with population growth.