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Swiss biologist wins leading US award

Hans Rudolf Herren was honoured for developing ecological measures to control pests


A Swiss biologist based in Africa has been honoured with one of the United States' most prestigious environmental awards.

Dr Hans Rudolph Herren shares the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, which comes with a $200,000 cheque, for his work on pest control.

Herren, who is Director of the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, Kenya, was awarded the prize along with two other renowned scientists, Sir Richard Doll of Oxford University and Yoel Margalith of the Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

Originally from canton Valais, Herren received the award for his contribution to pest control research using ecological measures such as "natural enemies" of insects rather than chemical pesticides.

Among his many scientific achievements, he identified a wasp to combat the mealybug plague, which threatened to starve more than 20 million Africans by destroying cassava crops across the continent.


The prize is the latest in a string of accolades awarded to Herren. Two others include the World Food Prize - which he won in 1995 - and Britain's Rank Prize for Nutrition in 1991.

He has also been recognised on numerous occasions for his applied research and groundbreaking publications.

Once a farm boy in the southern Rhone region, Herren played a key role in setting up the Zurich-based foundation, Biovision, which mediates between scientists running sustainable development projects and local communities in Africa.

The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement was founded in 1973 and is granted yearly to outstanding scientists by the University of Southern California.

Herren's prize-winning colleagues this year include Richard Doll, who is best known for establishing the link between cancer and smoking.

The other Tyler Prize recipient, Yoel Margalith, who was born in Yugoslavia and is a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, has dedicated his biomedical research to the control of mosquitoes and black flies in developing countries.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

For the second time in the North American award's history, a Swiss scientist is a co-winner of the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.

Hans Rudolph Herren is known around the world for his environmentally sustainable contribution to pest control.

He has also been recognised on numerous occasions for his applied research and groundbreaking publications.

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