AIC LogoMonthly Report

September 2009
In This Issue
Strength from Members
Introducing AIC's Renewed Awards Program
Women Making History in AIC: Dr. Mary MacArthur, FAIC
Welcome CAST
Charles Gibbings, FAIC, 1917-2009
Quick Links
TopWould Norman Borlaug use Rap to wake us up to-day? The Nobel Laureate employed scientific enquiry, education and communications to provide fuel for the rocket known as the Green Revolution.  As he noted in the 1967 inaugural AIC Klinck Lecture, we have a moral responsibility to strengthen society's understanding that scientific inquiry and its application can solve the problem of hunger.
The 21st challenges for agriculture and related sciences go well beyond feeding the world, as Dr. Borlaug well understood. A visionary and common man, I like to think he would employ popular music to get the message out about the need for industry, government, NGOs and scientific institutions to push out the production possibility frontier for increased sustainable output from the agri-resource base. 
So, yes, I think he would have used Rap, as MC Tractor does on this
tribute to Dr. Borlaug's great achievements.
Myles Frosst, CEO 

Strength in Numbers

The past month has been stellar for what AIC does best: bringing together individuals who share a personal and professional interest in putting their knowledge to work for the long-term sustainable use of agricultural resources.   
Our Unifying Voice Advisory Committee met to push forward the strategy for AIC to be the focal point for debate around science, industry and the agri-resource base.  Their commitment to that end is already prompting financial supporters to get behind the initiative.

The AIC members of the organizing committee for a workshop to be held in Calgary on December 4 have turned up some very compelling speakers and sharpened the workshop's focus on critical questions that need to be answered if Canada is to produce feedstocks for both food and fuel.   
Collaboration with a recent institutional member, BIOTECanada, produced a very effective information day for Parliamentarians and government officials.  We brought much deeper awareness of biotechnology as one of the important tools for the sustainable use of agriculture.  Without the collaboration of such a member, it would be much more difficult for AIC to get its message across.  The result: requests of AIC to provide ideas for "analysis of solutions that agriculture can bring to meeting 21st century challenges." 
The numbers are growing and the expertise is growing deeper. We welcome the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology as a new institutional member.  
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Introducing AIC's Renewed Awards Program
We are excited to announce a brand new AIC award, and to tell you about the renewal of two existing awards.  Please promote the awards to your colleagues and please consider nominating a worthy candidate!
The new AIC Sustainable Futures Award will recognize tomorrow's leaders in agricultural innovation: young women and men who are advancing and applying innovative scientific knowledge on the sustainable use of agricultural resources for societal good.  People who believe agricultural resources can answer challenges in human and animal health, food security, climate change, energy demand and environmental health.  The award recipient will receive $1,000 to further advance the development and application of new scientific knowledge and a complimentary five-year membership in AIC.  Click here to read more about the Sustainable Futures Award.
The AIC Fellowship Award remains AIC's highest award, honouring an individual AIC member who has made a distinguished contribution to Canadian agriculture.  The criteria for the Fellowship have been updated to reflect the complexity of contemporary agriculture and the many talents brought to it.  An emphasis is placed on contributions to building scientific capacity for societal good, integration and collaboration between disciplines and sectors, and communications.  Click here to read more about the AIC Fellowship Award.
The AIC International Recognition Award brings together two former awards - the International Partners Award and the International Recognition Award.  It will honour individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to the improvement of agriculture in the Developing World.  AIC members and non-members, Canadian or non-Canadian, are eligible to receive the award.  Click here to learn more the new International Recognition Award.
The review and reemphasis of the awards program is the result of many hours of work by the AIC Honours and Awards Committee and our Gender Equality Mainstreaming (GEM) Working Group over the past four months.  The groups began their review with special attention to ensuring the awards meet AIC's gender equality policies, then continued with an in depth analysis of the criteria, eligibility and review process for each of the awards.  
The AIC Honours and Awards Committee welcomes nominations for the three awards for 2009.  The deadline for submission is December 31, 2009.  If you require any additional information, contact the AIC office.
Special thanks to the Honours and Awards Committee and representatives of the GEM Working Group:  Kevin Sanderson, Kim Shukla, John Proctor, David Chansyk, Dinah Ceplis and Bob Eilers. 
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Women Making History in AIC:  Dr. Mary MacArthur, FAIC

Mary MacArthurThose who garden or who shop at farmers' markets are busy processing fresh garden produce by freezing it or drying it for winter consumption. Many of us include in our diets food items like frozen peas and corn and dried tomatoes and apricots throughout the year. The principles behind successful food dehydration and freezing were scientifically explored in the 1940s in Canada by food researcher Dr. Mary MacArthur, who in 1952 was the first woman to be named as Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada (FAIC). [See the 1967 article on Women: Their Status in Professional Agriculture from the Agricultural Institute Review which identifies Dr. MacArthur as the only woman to be a FAIC at that time.]

Dr. MacArthur's early speciality was in plant histology and cytology. She demonstrated leadership in Canadian work on dehydration by having a dehydration tunnel built in Ottawa in 1942. Her fundamental research was on methods for determining the inactivation of enzymes in plant tissues prior to dehydration. She published a paper on the freezing of commercially packaged asparagus before the end of the Second World War. Dr. MacArthur assisted Malcolm Bancroft Davis, chief of Division of Horticulture for the Dominion Department of Agriculture until 1955, who conducted research on the preservation of fruits and vegetables by freezing and gas storage of apples.

Dale Ells, member of the  Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists, writes that, "on pages 330 and 331 in "One Hundred Harvests" by T. H. Ansty and published by the Research Branch of Agriculture Canada, Historical Series No. 27, 1986, there is a brief discussion of her research in dehydration. She is credited with identifying that vegetables needed blanching to inactivate enzymes before dehydration. She worked jointly with scientists at Kentville, Nova Scotia who provided her with the dehydrated vegetables for further analysis in Ottawa. This was an important activity during the war years as many fruits and vegetables had to be dehydrated and shipped for the war effort."  Dale Ells recalls hearing about the plant in Aylsford, N.S. where turnips were dehydrated during the Second World War.

Mary MacArthur was born in Glasgow, Scotland and came to Canada as a child. The family settled in Pugwash on the Northumberland Strait shore of Nova Scotia. Mary indicates that she became interested in botany at an early age.  "I can remember when I was only so high noticing the plants in the woods and how they were very different from the ones on the seashore," she says in a 1954 newspaper interview with the Kitchener-Waterloo Record.

In 1949, Mary and her two sisters (both nurses in Boston) purchased a cottage in Pugwash that was 100 years old at the time and began fixing it up.  She also enjoyed reading mystery stories and articles on archaeology.

She attended Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia where she graduated with a BSc in 1933. She completed her PhD at Radcliffe College, affiliated with Harvard University, in 1937. She started employment as Assistant Professor of Botany at a women's college in Elmira, New York, 1937-38, but did not want to stay in the USA and chose to return to Canada. She then became Agricultural Scientist, Horticulture Division, Experimental Farms Service, Dominion Department of Agriculture, Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Canada in 1938.
The FAIC awarded in 1952 recognized her work in the fruit products laboratory.
Dinah Ceplis
AIC International Program Gender Equality Officer

"Essays on the early history of plant pathology and mycology in Canada" by Ralph Howard Estey, 1994.
"Woman Plant Scientist Delights in Whodunits", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Sept. 24, 1954.
E-mail communication with Dale Ells, member of Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists, June 2009
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Welcome CAST
AIC and the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology have exchanged reciprocal associate memberships.   Based in Ames, Iowa, CAST is a nonprofit organization composed of 33 scientific societies and many individual, student, company, nonprofit, and associate society members. 
CAST's mission is to assemble, interpret, and communicate credible science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.   To that end their primary focus is on the publication of task force reports, commentary papers and issue papers written by scientists from many disciplines. 
CAST addresses issues of animal sciences, food sciences and agricultural technology, plant and soil sciences, and plant protection sciences with inputs from economists, social scientists, toxicologists or plant pathologists and entomologists, weed scientists, nematologists, and legal experts.
Read more on the CAST website.   
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Charles Gibbings, FAIC, 1917-2009
Charles GibbingsDr. Charles W. Gibbings, a Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada, passed away in Kelowna, BC on August 1, 2009 at the age of 92. 
Born in Rosetown, Saskatchewan, he attended the University of Saskatchewan and was an instructor at the University from 1948 to 1951.  He was elected to the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in 1946, became a director in 1952, second vice-president 1955-60 and president in 1960.  He served in that position for nine years. 
A strong advocate of international co-operation among grain exporting countries, Charles Gibbings was involved in three sets of international wheat agreement negotiations. In 1962 and 1967, he attended the talks in Geneva as an advisor to the Canadian delegation, and in 1970-1971 as deputy leader. A life-long supporter of orderly marketing of grain, he served as Chairman of the Canadian Wheat Board Advisory Committee, as well as Commissioner of the Canadian Wheat Board.
In 1967, Charles Gibbings was named a Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada. His citation reads in part:  Charles W. Gibbings is one of the most influential farm leaders in Canada and has contributed much to a better understanding of agriculture and the needs of farmers among Canadian in other occupations.  His most outstanding contribution, however, has been in the influence he has exerted both in Canada and broad toward the expansion of markets for Canadian grain and in his emphasis on the responsibility which Canada and other developed countries must assume in assisting the development of emerging nations.
Sources:  Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, September 12, 2009; Agricultural Institute Review, July-August, 1967; Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame (
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