Dr. Cary Fowler

The William L. Brown Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden selected Dr. Cary Fowler for the Center’s 7th William L. Brown Award for Excellence in Genetic Resource Conservation. Dr. Fowler has been committed to the conservation of plant resources throughout his career. In the 1990s he headed the International Conference Program on Plant Genetic Resources at the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and produced the first global assessment of the state of the world’s crop diversity. In 1996 he served as chief author of the FAO’s Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources and worked to have it adopted by 150 countries. He is credited with leading an international campaign in 2010 to organize the saving of one of the world’s largest living collections of fruit and berry varieties from urban development at the Pavlovsk Experiment Station in Russia.

From 2005-2012 Dr. Fowler led to the creation of and served as Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust which works to ensure “the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide.” The trust’s Svalbard Seed Vault now houses more than 783,000 distinct food crop varieties and their wild relatives. The trust worked with partner gene-banks in 71 countries and rescued nearly 84,000 unique crop varieties from extinction and sponsored more than 40 projects to screen crop collections for important traits such as heat and drought tolerance. In partnership with the USDA, the trust launched a state-of-the-art gene-bank management system ("GRIN-Global") and made it available to 38 gene-banks internationally, and developed the first ever-global portal to accession (sample) level information (Genesys).

Dr. Fowler has served as a Special Assistant to the Secretary General of the World Food Summit and as a board member of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, as well as the National Plant Genetic Resources Board of the U.S. In 2013, Fowler was elected to Membership in the Russian Academy of Sciences as only one of two foreign members of the Academy. He is former chair of the board of The Livestock Conservancy, and a former member of the board of Seed Savers Exchange.

Dr. Fowler holds a Bachelor of Arts and doctorate from Uppsala University in Sweden.  He holds Honorary Doctorates from Rhodes College and Simon Fraser University. Dr. Fowler received the Right Livelihood Award in 1985 for his work on the preservation of biodiversity in agriculture, the Vavilov Medal of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Science, and the Heinz Award in 2010.

The award was presented during a keynote lecture in the framework of the 9th BGCI (Botanical Gardens Conservation International) International Congress on Education in Botanic Gardens, hosted by Missouri Botanical Garden from April 26 through May 1, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. For more information visit www.mobot.org/bgci.

The William L. Brown Award recognizes the outstanding contributions of an individual in the field of genetic resource conservation and use. It is administered by the William L. Brown Center (WLBC) at the Missouri Botanical Garden and is made possible through a generous endowment from the Sehgal Family Foundation, in cooperation with the family of Dr. Brown.

Dr.  Brown was a distinguished, internationally-recognized scientist, businessman, and humanitarian. Over the course of five decades, he devoted himself to the collection, preservation, understanding, and sharing of plant genetic resources in order to help meet the global demand for food. The William L. Brown Award recognizes an individual whose efforts and achievements reflect a concern for those issues that were so important to Dr. Brown.