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Glenn Anderson and the Lecture in his Name    

The Glenn Anderson Lecture was first given at joint meetings of the Canadian Phytopathological Society (CPS) and American Phytopathological Society (APS) in honour of Robert Glenn Anderson, the eminent Canadian agricultural scientist, who played a major role in the green revolution. The lecture series, on the security of world food supply, was approved by CPS and APS in 1986, and an endowment fund was then established. It was planned that the Lecture would be presented at joint meetings of the two societies. A joint meeting under the CPS Presidency of Verna Higgins at Grand Rapids, Michigan, provided the first occasion since the initiation of the fund and Norman Borlaug presented the first Lecture. See: Verna J Higgins (1990) “CPS and APS Sponsor the Glenn Anderson Lecture on Security of the World Food Supply” Plant Disease 74 (6) 400.

More recently, the Lecture has been given at some International Congresses of Plant Pathology (ICPP). One such Lecture by E R Terry in a Plenary Session at ICPP1998 was published as “Ecological stability and crop protection: a case for investment in technological alternatives” Plant Pathology” (1999) 48 (6) 679–688.

After service with the Royal Canadian Air Force, Glenn Anderson began his scientific career in 1946. He first studied entomology and then plant breeding and genetics. After a brief period as a faculty member at the University of Saskatchewan, he joined Agriculture Canada and studied the genetics of rust resistance in wheat. By 1958, he had become a Senior Research Officer at the Canada Department of Agriculture in this work.

In 1964, Norman Borlaug recruited Glenn and his wife Roberta to help lead an accelerated wheat improvement program being established in India. This was collaboration between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the Rockefeller Foundation, and the newly formed International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). Glenn served as the Joint Coordinator of the All-India Coordinated Wheat Program from 1964 to 1971. When Glenn arrived in India, the country had a 5 to 8 million ton wheat deficit that was steadily worsening, as food demand increasingly outpaced supply. Working closely with Indian wheat scientists under Dr M S Swaminathan, then head of the Department of Botany at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi who later became director of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and director general of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Glenn helped to lead a research and production effort that put bread into the mouths of tens of millions, leading to the invention of the term “Green Revolution” by the press.

In 1971, Glenn was appointed Deputy Director of the CIMMYT Wheat Program, based in Mexico. Then when Norman Borlaug retired as Director in July 1979, Glenn assumed the Directorship of CIMMYT's Wheat Program.

Robert Glenn Anderson had a relatively short life dying at the age of 57 in 1981, when he was Director of the CIMMYT Wheat Program. He became ill on a field mission to Zaire and was taken to Madrid and then home to Winnipeg where he died.

Much of this information has been obtained courtesy of Dr Anthony Hopkin of CPS who made available the paper Borlaug N E (1992) “World food security and the legacy of Canadian wheat scientist R. Glenn Anderson”, Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology 14 (4) 254—266.