DuPont Receives Patents for Humanity Award for Africa Biofortified Sorghum Initiative

DuPont News, April 17, 2013
DuPont Scientist Marc Albertsen, ABS Research Lead.

 

DuPont has been honored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), an agency of the Department of Commerce, for its research efforts to improve nutrition, production and availability of sorghum, a staple crop in Africa. The USPTO Patents for Humanity is an awards competition to recognize patented technologies that address humanitarian needs.

The award affirms DuPont’s commitments to the importance of collaboration and innovation in science, the importance of seeking food security solutions for a growing world population, and the role of patents and intellectual property in encouraging continued investment in science-based research. The following employees are recognized for their contributions to this project: Marc Albertsen, Zuo-yu Zhao, Kimberly Glassman, Ping Che and Lila Akrad.

“This award recognizes the importance of collaboration across the public and private sectors to bring real solutions to the people and places that need it most,” said Pioneer President Paul Schickler. “Science must be at the heart of solutions to feeding a growing population.”

In Africa, each year up to half a million children become blind from vitamin A deficiencies and nearly 600,000 women die from childbirth-related causes, many from complications that could be reduced through better provision of vitamin A, iron or zinc. Nearly 300 million people in Africa depend on sorghum as a staple crop, but do not have access to another staple that provides the essential nutrients that sorghum lacks.

“I congratulate DuPont for their efforts to improve the nutritional quality of sorghum,” said U.S. Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Debbie Stabenow (Michigan). “This is a sterling example of how American innovation and modern agricultural technologies help feed a growing world population.”

DuPont established collaborations with a number of organizations, including Africa Harvest Foundation International, the primary coordinating organization for the Africa Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) initiative, to increase the amount and stability of pro-vitamin A, iron and zinc, and improve protein digestibility of sorghum. In the next several years, the ABS initiative is expected to benefit millions of Africans that rely upon sorghum, which traditionally is deficient in key nutrients.

DuPont scientist and lead researcher for the initiative, Marc Albertsen, was presented with the Patents for Humanity award at a ceremony held last week in Washington, D.C. The program advances U.S. President Barack Obama’s global development agenda by rewarding companies who bring life-saving technologies to underserved people of the world, while showing how patents are an integral part of tackling the world's challenges. DuPont donated the original technology and has contributed technical and capacity-building support to this humanitarian effort.

“From Norman Borlaug to today, Iowan innovations in science and agriculture continue to help feed the world,” added U.S. Congressman Tom Latham (Iowa). “I commend DuPont Pioneer on this tremendous breakthrough that will go to great lengths to improving food security in Africa.”

“Patents and intellectual property rights are fundamental because they encourage continued science-based innovation and allow for investment in future research,” said Paul.