Biotech #FoodHeroes: Channa Prakash

Channa Prakash

The gains of the “green revolution” made a deep and lasting impression on Channa Prakash.

“Having grown up in India during the 1960s and ‘70s, I witnessed first-hand how the green revolution transformed my country and helped achieve greater food security,” Prakash says. “I chose to go into plant breeding after listening to the lecture by the great Norman Borlaug.”

From there, Prakash migrated to biotechnology — a new tool in plant breeding that is ushering in a similarly impactful “gene revolution.” He saw “great potential in its ability to make agricultural far more productive and sustainable” and was one of the first to use the technology to improve sweet potato and peanut crops.

Now, as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Alabama’s Tuskegee University, Prakash is inspiring others to do their part to improve crop yields and end hunger. It’s all the more pressing at a time when agriculture, he says, is challenged by “its ability to cope with the changing demands of global climate change.”

Prakash is also a frequent contributor to social media, engaging in communication initiatives that aim to dispel myths and misunderstandings around agricultural biotechnology. “It is a very safe method to improve our crops,” he explains.

His global outreach also extends to policymakers, media and public interest groups as he delivers public lectures, participates in interviews, and seizes every opportunity to help those with influence recognize the relevance of biotechnology in feeding the world and improving farmers’ lives.

“As we have already seen from the experience of farmers in India with Bt cotton, access to this technology will increasingly make farmers more prosperous and help them become more productive while decreasing their operating expenses and reliance on the labor,” Prakash says.