Dr. Cary Fowler, a distinguished agriculturist and the chair of the Board of Trustees at Rhodes College, came to campus to discuss his international advocacy work on Oct. 9. The event was sponsored by the Rhodes Department of International Studies and the Environmental Studies & Sciences Program.
Throughout his career, Fowler’s main interest has been advocating for the conservation of crop diversity. In the 1990’s, he led the International Conference and Programme on Plant Genetic Resources for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. During that time, he created the Global Plan of Action on the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources, which was subsequently adopted by 150 countries. His work as a conservationist and diplomat also led to the creation of the Global Seed Vault in Norway, which protects over 850,000 crop varieties from becoming extinct.
In the early 2000’s, Fowler became the head of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, and in 2015, President Obama appointed him to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development.
“I’ve always thought that extinction was a process, not an event. It’s not when the last individual dies, it’s when the species loses the ability to evolve,” Fowler told the audience during the event.
The advocacy and conservation efforts put forth by Fowler demonstrate the importance of protecting our crop diversity in order to feed the world.