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Food for Thought Lecture Series

Agriculture Under Siege:
The science behind sustainability

Agriculture and the sciences behind it were instrumental to the development of civilization. We have been experimenting with plants ever since the hunter-gatherers saved plump seeds to plant the next season. Canadian agricultural research has been a story of finding crops and animals that can adapt to our climate zones and soils. Crop science has developed new varieties of plants that can grow where none could previously with resistance to diseases, and insects. Modern agronomic practices focus on maintaining soil health, increasing yield and reducing farmer costs. Today, world agriculture is under siege by many stresses. Population growth exceeds our food production capacity. Global warming reduces our land base, decreases crop yields and causes the invasion of new pest species. The depletion of our soils, water and natural resources reduces our capacity to produce food. Urbanization depletes our land base, and pollutes our air and water sources. Now, more than ever we need to rely on new sciences to increase our agricultural production and sustain our farming capacity. As a planet we need to ensure that we can produce abundant, nutritious food, on the same amount of land forever. We need to invest in the science of sustainable agriculture.

The presentation will be in English only with a bilingual Q & A.


Dr. Malcolm Morrison Dr. Malcolm Morrison

Dr. Malcolm Morrison has worked as a crop physiologist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada since 1984. He grew up on an AAFC research station in Morden, Manitoba where his father was a director. His grandfather was a share cropper from Hanna Alberta, the heart of Canada’s dust bowl during the 1930s. He did his B.Sc. in agriculture at Macdonald College, a M.Sc. in lentil plant breeding at the University of Saskatchewan and a Ph.D. in canola physiology at the University of Manitoba. He has worked on all Canadian field crops at one time or another but has recently focused on oilseed crops, improving heat stress tolerance in canola and drought stress tolerance in soybean. Crop physiology is a specialty that examines the relationship between the environment and the yield, adaptability and marketable seed trait factors of the crop. Malcolm has also worked on cold stress adaptation in corn, and is a co-developer of sugarcorn, a new biofuel crop for Canada. He has over 80 scientific publications, has represented Canada on soybean trade missions to Asia and has traveled extensively in Australia where he spent a work term studying drought effects in oilseed crops.

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