September 17, 2010

Lugar Announces New Science Envoys, Receives George Brown Award for International Scientific Cooperation Includes World Food Prize Winner Dr. Ejeta of Purdue University

On September 16, U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar announced three new Science Envoys for the U.S. Department of State while receiving the George Brown Award for International Scientific Cooperation at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Lugar initiated the Science Envoy initiative in April 2009
 
Dr. Rita Colwell, Distinguished University Professor both at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health; Dr. Alice P. Gast, President of Lehigh University; and Dr Gebisa Ejeta, Distinguished Professor of Plant Breeding & Genetics and International Agriculture at Purdue University were announced as the next Science Envoys. 
 
“I am pleased to once again recognize Dr. Ejeta’s work,” said Lugar.  “A former World Food Prize recipient, Dr. Ejeta will work diligently to help solve global challenges such as hunger and poverty as our next Science Envoy.”
 
In 2009, Lugar congratulated Purdue University Professor Dr. Gebisa Ejeta as the recipient of the World Food Prize. For the second time in three years a Purdue professor had won this distinguished award, considered the world’s highest award for agricultural achievement, on par with the Nobel prizes.
 
“The World Food Prize Foundation made an excellent selection in choosing Dr. Ejeta’s,” Lugar said at the time. “The Foreign Relations Committee benefited from his testimony earlier this year, and I am excited that he has been recognized for his tremendous role in efforts to end global hunger and poverty.”
 
Dr. Ejeta earned the World Food Prize for his work to dramatically increase sorghum yields in Africa. A native of Ethiopia, he testified before Lugar and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March about the importance of investments in global agriculture production and rural development to meet the needs of a rapidly growing world population.
 
According to the U.S. Department of State, in a June 4, 2009, speech in Cairo, Egypt, President Obama declared his intention to embrace Lugar’s initiative and “appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops.” The U.S. Science Envoy Program, announced by Secretary Clinton in November 2009 in Marrakech, Morocco, reflects a commitment to global engagement in science and technology.
 
U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar made the following opening remarks yesterday at the National Press Club.  Lugar received the 2010 George Brown International Scientific Cooperation Award at the event. 
 
I am deeply honored to be a recipient of the George Brown Award for International Scientific Cooperation.  I am grateful to the Civilian Research and Development Foundation for this recognition, and I want to thank my close friends and former Senate colleagues, Chuck Hagel and Sam Nunn, for their generous remarks.  We miss their statesmanship in the Senate, and though I still have many chances to see them, I greatly miss having the benefit of their daily counsel and good humor.
 
It is also a privilege to be honored the same evening as Dr. Bruce Alberts and the late Dr. Norman Borlaug.  Over many years, I had the privilege to receive Dr. Borlaug’s wisdom and counsel, as he testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee and in private meetings and communications.  His testimony and support were a personal inspiration to me and a deep influence on several of my legislative projects, most notably the Global Food Security Act, which sought to improve the dissemination of agricultural technology and expand collaborative food research with foreign universities.
 
In the coming decades, our security and prosperity will be determined in large measure by how well we advance the international scientific cooperation that we celebrate tonight.  The effectiveness of our response to most of the world’s problems, including maintaining energy supplies, controlling nuclear proliferation, sustaining abundant food production, dealing with water scarcity, combating virulent diseases, and responding to environmental disasters, will depend on the investments that we have made in global knowledge, scientific relationships, and communications.
 
We are blessed in the United States with a university system and a scientific research base that is unmatched in the world.  We have produced more Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Economics than any other nation.  International opinion polls demonstrate admiration for our leadership in education, science, and technology, even in countries where the U.S. government is highly unpopular.  This admiration is reaffirmed each year as hundreds of thousands of international students enroll in American colleges and universities.
 
With this in mind, I introduced legislation in May 2009 to establish a cadre of world-class U.S. researchers to travel throughout the globe and interact not only with their scientific peers, but also with foreign publics.  I was gratified when President Obama’s subsequent speech in Cairo last year included a similar call to establish a science envoy program.
 
Last November, Secretary Clinton announced the first three Science Envoys.  Fittingly, Dr. Bruce Alberts was among that distinguished group.  Secretary Clinton asked me to announce tonight the second round of Science Envoys.  I am delighted to share with you that Dr. Rita Colwell, Distinguished University Professor both at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health; Dr. Alice P. Gast, President of Lehigh University; and Dr Gebisa Ejeta,  Distinguished Professor of Plant Breeding & Genetics and International Agriculture at Indiana’s own Purdue University have been selected as the next Science Envoys.   Dr. Colwell will serve an envoy to Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Vietnam; Dr. Gast will serve as an envoy to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan; and Dr. Ejeta will serve as an envoy to Ethiopia, Tanzania, and South Africa.
 
Such programs lay the foundation for our outreach to the world.  They should remind us that the practice of foreign policy is not defined merely by a set of crisis decisions.   Inevitably, reporters, politicians, and even most historians portray foreign policy as a geopolitical chess game or a series of great diplomatic events.  This perception is reinforced by books and movies about dramatic moments in diplomatic history, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis.  These events capture our imagination, because we relive the struggles of leaders during times of great risk as they weigh the potential consequences of their actions. 
 
But crisis decision-making is a small part of a nation’s foreign policy.  When a nation gets to the point of having to make tactical choices in a time of crisis – it almost always is choosing between a bad option and a worse option.   As George Brown understood, a successful foreign policy depends much more on how well a nation prepares to avoid a crisis. 
 
For almost two decades, I have witnessed these dynamics as I have worked to oversee and expand the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, frequently in association with my partner, Sam Nunn.  The Nunn-Lugar Program has brought American scientists and technicians together with their counterparts in the former Soviet Union to achieve results that would have been unthinkable during the Cold War.  As of this month, 7,551nuclear warheads have been safely dismantled, along with the submarines, bombers, missiles, and silos that could have launched them.  We are in the process of destroying vast stockpiles of chemical weapons, safeguarding numerous biological weapons facilities, and providing employment to thousands of weapons scientists. 
 
Beyond Russia, it is vital that the United States breaks new ground in safeguarding and destroying weapons of mass destruction.  I have never considered Nunn-Lugar to be merely a program, or a funding source, or a set of agreements.  Rather, it is an engine of non-proliferation cooperation and technical expertise that can be applied around the world.  And it is a concept at the intersection of science and diplomacy through which, we as leaders who are responsible for the welfare of our children and grandchildren, can attempt to take control of a global threat.
 
The United States must send the clear message that we are willing to go anywhere to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  New opportunities for scientific partnership must be pursued creatively and relentlessly.  Some may say that we cannot forge cooperative non-proliferation programs with the most troublesome nations.  But the Nunn-Lugar program has demonstrated that extraordinary outcomes based on mutual interest are possible. 
 
The safe destruction of an individual warhead, the training of an individual technician, or the employment of an individual scientist appear to be small matters in the wider context of global affairs.  But these are exactly the kinds of building blocks on which international security and human progress depend. 
 
Since September 11, 2001, the United States has been engaged in a debate over how to apply national power and resources most effectively to achieve the maximum degree of security.  I continue to believe that we are not placing sufficient weight on the diplomatic, economic, and scientific tools of national power.  To survive and to prosper in this century, the United States must assign U.S. diplomatic, economic, and scientific capabilities the same strategic priority that we assign to military capabilities.
 
I am confident that the United States will continue to lead the world in scientific advancement and that our generous national spirit will place us at the forefront of international cooperation aimed at maintaining peace, protecting our planet, and improving human welfare.  I applaud each of you for the talents and energy that you have devoted to these outcomes.    I look forward to celebrating with you great progress in scientific cooperation and human discourse that we have envisioned tonight.  Thank you.
 
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