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Swiss agricultural expert wins 'alternative Nobel'

Malcolm Curtis/The Local/AFP · 26 Sep 2013, 12:45

Published: 26 Sep 2013 12:45 GMT+02:00

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Herren received the honour “for his expertise and pioneering work in promoting a safe, secure and sustainable food supply”, organizers of the award said in a citation.

The Swiss entomologist received the 1995 World Food Prize for leading a pest management campaign in Africa that successfully averted a food crisis that could have claimed an estimated 20 million lives.

The graduate of ETH Zurich also won the 2003 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.

Biovision, the 15-year-old foundation he heads, is working toward solutions that include promotion of organic agriculture to end hunger and poverty in the world.

The announcement on Thursday marked the first time Switzerland has won the Right Livelihood Award, which honours those who work to improve the lives of others.

Other joint winners of the award included American anti-chemical weapons campaigner Paul Walker, from the environmental group Green Cross, Palestinian human rights activist Raji Sourani and Congolese surgeon Denis Mukwege.

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"They show that we have the knowledge and the tools to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, to secure respect for human rights, to end the war on women in Eastern Congo, and to feed the world with organic agriculture," Ole von Uexkull, director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation said in a statement.

Swedish-German philatelist Jakob von Uexkull founded the donor-funded prize in 1980 after the Nobel Foundation behind the Nobel Prizes refused to create awards honouring efforts in the fields of the environment and international development.

For this reason, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation often calls its distinction the "alternative Nobel prize."

The four Right Livelihood winners share the 2 million kronor (230,000 euros, $312,000) prize sum equally.

The awards were to be formally handed over at a ceremony in the Swedish parliament on December 2nd 2013.

For more information on Biovision, click here.

Malcolm Curtis/The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.ch)

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