The awards - this year each worth 500,000 kronor ($51,000) - were founded in 1980 by Jakob von Uexkull, a stamp dealer who sold his collection to fund a program to recognize work that he believes is ignored by the prestigious Nobel prizes, which will be handed out on Sunday.
American plant geneticist Wes Jackson, Ethiopia's chief environmental official Tewolde Gebre Egziabher, Indonesian human rights activist Munir and Turkish environmentalist Birsel Lemke remembered the help they got at home in speeches during the awards ceremony at the Swedish parliament.
``I accept this award on behalf of all those past and present who have brought the Land Institute to this moment,'' said Jackson, who co-founded the institute in Salina, Kansas. ``Their contributiions this past quarter-century represent a belief in the long-term necessity - and now the possibility - of solving the 10,000-year-old problem of agriculture.''
Jackson was cited for his vision of a natural farming system based on perennial crops.
Lemke was named for her fight against cyanide-based gold mining.
``It's a great honor for me to be able to accept this award for a resistance movement, a movement that would not have been possible without the support of my friends,'' Lemke said.
The awards committee recognized Munir for his promotion of civilian control of the military in Indonesia, while Egziabher was honored for leading negotiations for a biosafety protocol to set rules governing trade in genetically engineered products.
``The fact that I am from the remotest of reaches, and that I am being honored on the basis of rural thought, adds awkwardness to the weight I feel,'' Egziabher said in his prepared speech.
Von Uexkull and the audience joined in a minute of silence to honor the lives and work of 1984 winner Imane Khalifeh of Lebanon and 1997 recipient Jinzaburo Takagi of Japan, who died in the past year.