World Food Prize Lecture Slated for October 12
Penn University welcomes all students, staff, faculty, and community members to
attend the World Food Prize lecture on Wednesday, October 12, at 11:15 a.m. in
the George Daily Auditorium. This year’s speaker is Dr. Charity Kawira Mutegi.
Mutegi, 38, currently serves as the Kenya Country Coordinator for the Aflasafe
Project for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), on
assignment from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). She was named
the 2013 recipient of the Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and
Application, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Dr. Mutegi spearheaded efforts to
identify the cause of, and solution to, a deadly outbreak of aflatoxicosis in
fatal to 125 people in eastern Kenya who consumed contaminated grain. Her
diligent research led to innovative solutions to avert future outbreaks and
safeguard the region’s staple crop of maize. Dr. Mutegi is leading efforts for
the development of a biocontrol product in Kenya that can be used to
significantly reduce aflatoxin levels in maize. This works by introducing
naturally occurring non-toxic strains of the fungus, which have a competitive
advantage over the strains that produce the deadly aflatoxin, a technology that
was developed by the US Department of Agriculture —Agriculture Research Service
(USDA-ARS), and locally adapted for use in several African countries by IITA
and partners. The non-toxic strains outcompete the toxic strains, thus
reducing aflatoxin contamination in the maize crop. The microbial bio pesticide
she and her team are developing —
“aflasafe KE01” — is
affordable for farmers, is natural and environmentally safe, and once applied
to a field, the effects last multiple growing seasons, making it extremely
“Dr. Mutegi is an inspiration to
other young scientists around the world. She tackled a critical problem, and
has effectively transferred her own scientific knowledge to farmers and
policymakers to help improve food safety for the entire region,” said
Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, President of The World Food Prize. “Like Dr.
Borlaug, she has put the needs of people first, and has shown persistence,
innovation, effective communication, contribution to science, and application
of that science to improve lives and livelihoods.”
Dr. Mutegi was educated at the Jomo
Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, where she received her
Bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Post-Harvest Technology. She received her
MSc in Food Science and Technology at the University of Nairobi. She earned her
PhD at the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
1986, The World Food Prize has been the leading international award to
recognize outstanding individuals who have made staggering contributions to
improve the quality, quantity, or availability of food throughout the
world. It recognizes contributions in any field involved in the world
food supply including food and agricultural science and technology,
manufacturing, marketing, nutrition, economics, poverty alleviation, political
leadership and the social sciences. The World Food Prize emphasizes the importance
of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people.The World
Food Prize was originally envisioned by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, winner of the
1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in world agriculture. Beyond recognizing
these recipients for their personal accomplishments, Borlaug saw the World Food
Prize as a means of establishing role models who would inspire others.
Penn University invites you to welcome Dr. Charity Kawira Mutegi as the keynote
speaker at the World Food Prize lecture on Wednesday, October 12, at 11:15 a.m.
in the George Daily Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public.
For more information,