By Zhou Jing & Wu Huanshu
Back in 1979, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture presented 1.5 kilograms hybrid rice seeds to the American Occidental Petroleum Corporation, a symbolic act that represented the first export of Chinese hybrid rice. Since then, academician Yuan Longping, the "Father of Hybrid Rice", has introduced Chinese hybrid rice technology to countries all over the world.
The famous American agronomist Don Paarlberg once said, "Yuan led toward a well-fed world" and as the food crisis spreads, his words seem particularly apt. Yuan has spent most of his life developing hybrid rice and thinking how to solve the food problems of China and the world.
Yuan Longping, "Father of Hybrid Rice"
Recently Yuan spoke to Oriental Outlook about himself, hybrid rice, the food crisis and food subsidies.
'I'm spiritually rich'
Oriental Outlook (O hereafter): What do you think of talk on the Internet that you should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?
Yuan (Y hereafter): I haven't really given it any thought. And the award of the Nobel Peace Prize is always complicated by politics. I just want to develop my hybrid rice to benefit the people of the world.
O: Some people have said you are worth over 100 billion yuan, that you are richer than Bill Gates. Do you have any comment?
Y: I'm spiritually the richest. Too much money is no use. You come into the world with nothing, and leave it with nothing. Why should I need so much money?
O: The former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger once said, "Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control people." What's your understanding of his words?
Y: He's right. Food means survival; it is the most significant strategic resource. Control of food is more important than control of oil.