Yuan Longping, a Chinese scientist who developed high-yield hybrid rice that alleviated famine in Asia and Africa, died at age 90 Saturday. A national hero in China, thousands attended his memorial service Monday in Changsha, China. He is credited with saving countless lives.
What was his legacy? In the early 1970s, Yuan developed a hybrid strain of rice that yielded about 20 to 30 percent more rice per acre than non-hybrid strains. In 1980, he donated the strains to the International Rice Research Institute, which used them to make new varieties for more tropical countries. Yuan taught farmers how to grow the rice in countries like Liberia and India and shared modern rice-growing techniques that further improved their yield. In 2017, he worked with an agricultural school to develop a rice variety for locations with heavy metal pollution by reducing the cadmium in the rice by 90 percent.
Dig deeper: Watch Yuan’s 2017 speech on the impact of hybrid rice on global food security.