Headline, June 05 2021/ HONOURS : ''' '' SCIENTIST YUAN LONGPING '' '''



 LONGPING '' '''

RESEARCH SCIENTIST YUAN LONGPING : 1930-2021 rose to become a national and in time a global hero as a symbol of dogged scientific pursuit in China.

His accomplishment of developing high-yield hybrid strains of rice helped to alleviate famine and poverty across much of Asia and Africa.

Scientist Yuan made two major discoveries in hybrid rice cultivation, said Jauhar Ali, the senior scientist for hybrid rice breeding at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, the Philippines.

Those discoveries, in the early 1970s - together with breakthroughs in wheat cultivation in the 50s and 60s by Norman Borlugh, an American plant scientist - helped create the Green Revolution of steeply rising harvests and an end to famine in most of the world.

Mr. Borlaug, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, died in 2009. My. Yuan research arguably had effects at least as broad, since rice is the main grain for half the world's population and wheat for a third.

AT THE TIME - THE WORLD OF RICE SCIENTISTS was full of talk of developing hybrid strains. Three similar papers on rice hybridization were published in 1971 : The International Rice Institute, the Indian Agriculture.

Research Institute in Delhi and a team of California researchers.

While the teams in India, the Philippines and the United States kept doing research after publishing their papers, Mr. Yuan immediately developed hybrid strains of rice the next year.

To create the hybrids, he used the wild rice from Hainan. By 1978, Mr. Yuan had already overseen the start of large-scale production of hybrid rice in Hunan Province, in China's southwest. He ended up doing most of his research there for the rest of his life.

Hybrid rice varieties typically produce 20 to 30 percent more rice per acre than nonhybrid strains when cultivated with the same transplant techniques, fertilizer and water. But as Mr. Yuan and his ever growing teams of rice experts introduced hybrid strains across Asia and Africa, they also taught farmers a wide range of advanced rice growing techniques that produced further gains.

Steeply rising yields helped to make famines a distant memory in most rice growing countries. ''He saved a lot - a lot - of lives, '' said Hu Yonghong, the director of the 500-acre Shanghai Censhan Botanical Garden.

After his discoveries in the early 1970s, Mr. Yuan became a strong advocate for sharing his breakthroughs internationally, instead of using them to achieve Chinese dominance in rice production.

He took the initiative in donating crucial rice strains in 1980 to the International Rice Institute, which later used them to develop hybrid varieties that could grow in tropical countries.

Mr. Yuan and his team taught farmers in India, Madagascar, Liberia and elsewhere to grow hybrid rice.

Yuan Longping was born on Sept. 7, 1930 in Beijing, or Beiping, as it was then called. His mother, Hua Jing taught English and his father, Yuan, Yuan Xinglie, was a school teacher. Mr. Yuan often cited the example set by his mother.

''She was an educated woman at a time when they were uncommon,'' he said in a memoir published in 2010. ''From early on I came under under her uplifting influence.''

He entered college in 1949, just as the Chinese Communist Party was consolidating its control over the country, and chose to specialize in agronomy at a school in the southwest. His initial inspiration came for choosing agriculture science - despite not having a rural background and despite the misgivings of his parents.

It came partly from visiting a farm for a school excursion, and partly from the idyllic scene in Charlie  Chaplin's film ''Modern Times,'' in which the Little Tramp savors grapes and fresh milk at the doorstep of his home.

''As I grew older, the desire became stronger, and agronomy became my life's vocation,'' he wrote in his memoir.

Mr. Yuan chose to specialize in crop genetics at a time when the subject was an ideological minefield in China. 

Mao Zedong had embraced the doctrines of Soviet scientists who rejected modern genetics and maintained that genes could be directly rewired by altering environmental conditions, such as the temperature. They claimed they would open the way to dramatic rises in crop yields.

Unusually for such a prominent figure, though, Mr. Yuan never joined the Chinese Communist Party. ''I don't understand politics,'' he told a Chinese magazine in 2013.

Even so, the state news agency, Xinhua, honored him this month as a ''comrade,'' and his death brought an outpouring of public mourning in China. In 2019, he was one of the of eight Chinese individuals awarded the Medal of the Republic, China's highest official honor, by Xi Jinping, the national leader.

Mr. Xi sent condolences to Mr. Yuan's family declaring that Mr. Yuan had ''made  major contributions to our national food security, agricultural scientific innovation, and global food development,'' The Hunan Daily reported.

As recently as this year, Mr. Yuan was still working on developing new varieties of rice, according to Xinhua.

''There's no secret to it: my experience can be summed up in four words : knowledge, sweat, inspiration and opportunity,'' Mr. Yuan said in a video message last year encouraging young Chinese students to go into science.

In English, he quoted the scientist Louis Pasteur : ''Chance favors the prepared mind.'' 

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Great Scientists and accomplishments, continues. The World Students Society thanks authors Keith Bradsher and Chris Buckley.

With respectful dedication to the Leaders, Students, Professors and Teachers of China, and then the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011.

''' Sciences - Scientists '''

Good Night and God Bless

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