At the age of 88 prof. M.S. Swaminathan still knows how to inspire his audience. On Tuesday 6 May and Wednesday 7 May 2014 he gave lectures in Wageningen for PhD students, alumni and others. In his speech he looked back at his ‘65 years of scientific research for food and nutrition security in a warming planet’. In 1949, he arrived in Wageningen for the first time, in 1988 he received an honory doctorate in Wageningen and he was now back to celebrate this anniversary.
Prof. Swaminathan is an advocate of moving India to sustainable development, especially using environmentally sustainable agriculture, sustainable food security and the preservation of biodiversity, which he calls an ‘evergreen revolution’. In his lecture on and in responses to questions from the audience, on Wednesday 7 May chaired by Prof. Martin Kropff, Rector Magnificus, he mentioned that increase of productivity per hectare is inevitable because arable land is scarce and may become scarcer. The use of GMO needs to be discussed: it is accepted in medication, environment, industry, but not in food. He also stressed that agricultural extension must aim for an integral approach including technical and socio economic aspects.
Prof. Rudy Rabbinge of Wageningen University thanked Prof. Swaminathan for 65 years service to humanity and his striving for good sustainable food for all. Wageningen Ambassador Orlando de Ponti stated that plant breeding is an important and wonderful profession and it should attract more students and professionals. He also pointed out that promoting vegetables matches golden rice against malnutrition. The Dutch company Nunhem is for example active on the Indian market for vegetable production. Also bio fortifying crops is important, a lot of crops are available but not used yet.
Prof. Swaminathan is an Indian geneticist and international administrator, and is known as the ‘Father of the Green Revolution in India’. He did his Postdoc on potato genetics at Wageningen University in the early 1950’s. From 1972 to 1979 he was director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. He also served as director general of the International Rice Research Institute (1982–88) and became president of the IUCN in 1988. In 1999, Time magazine placed him in the 'Time 20' list of most influential Asian people of the 20th century. He is the founder and chairman of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation.