Of the many threats that face our growing world population, the loss of crop diversity and global seed supplies may not be the first to come to mind.
Cary Fowler wants to change that.
The former executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust wants the public to understand the importance of protecting plant genetic resources.
Fowler will deliver the 15th annual Thornton-Massa Lecture, “A Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources,” on Oct. 26 at 3:30 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Theater. The event is free and open to the public.
“There is no question that Dr. Fowler’s work continues to have tremendous global impact,” said Tom Holtzer, lead organizer of the 2014 Thornton-Massa Lecture and head of the CSU Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management. “Dr. Fowler has helped the world understand that we must protect plant genetic resources and ensure that the biodiversity that exists today will be available to future generations.”
Fowler’s many career accomplishments include producing the United Nations’ first global assessment of crop diversity while leading the International Conference and Programme on Plant Genetic Resources; helping save one of the world’s largest living collections of fruit and berry varieties at the Pavlovsk Experiment Station in Russia in 2010; and participating in negotiations for the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources.
Fowler is also the chief author of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources. He was profiled on 60 Minutes for his role in the “Doomsday Vault” where seeds are frozen colder than the Arctic permafrost above them. This means they’ll stay frozen and potentially viable for 25 years if the power goes out.
About the Thornton-Massa Lecture
The lecture honors the late Dr. Emil Massa of Denver and the late Bruce and Mildred Thornton, who shared a common interest in biodiversity, plant genetics, agriculture and horticulture.
Massa earned a medical degree in 1953 from Northwestern University and worked at Denver’s St. Joseph’s Hospital from 1960 to 1991. After retiring from orthopedic surgery, he spent much of his time feeding his love for plants at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Bruce and Mildred Thornton shared a lifelong interest in and commitment to the study, identification and preservation of seeds. Mildred Thornton attended then-Colorado State College and, after receiving her master’s degree in botany, went to work as a junior botanist at the Federal Seed Laboratory in Washington, D.C. Bruce Thornton served on the Colorado State College faculty and the Agricultural Experiment Station staff from 1927-1962, and he headed the Colorado State Seed Laboratory from 1940-1961. They married in 1930, and when Bruce retired in 1961, Mildred took over the directorship of the State Seed Laboratory, where she had worked occasionally for 20 years.