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Crop Diversity Champions Geoffrey Hawtin and Cary Fowler to Receive 2024 World Food Prize

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Geoffrey Hawtin and Cary Fowler
Geoffrey Hawtin and Cary Fowler

The World Food Prize Foundation has announced that Dr. Geoffrey Hawtin and Dr. Cary Fowler, esteemed figures in the Crop Trust, will be awarded the 2024 World Food Prize.

Their exceptional leadership in safeguarding the world’s crop diversity heritage has earned them this prestigious honor.

For over five decades, Dr. Hawtin and Dr. Fowler have been at the forefront of efforts to conserve crop diversity, engaging governments, scientists, farmers, and civil society in this vital mission. The Crop Trust, established 20 years ago, has been instrumental in this endeavor, dedicated to conserving crop diversity and ensuring its availability for global use in perpetuity.

Dr. Geoffrey Hawtin’s illustrious career spans four decades, marked by unwavering dedication to conserving and utilizing crop diversity. From pioneering initiatives in Lebanon to leading the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Dr. Hawtin has been a driving force behind safeguarding the genetic wealth of our crops. His recent role on the Crop Trust’s Executive Board continues to shape the organization’s strategic direction.

Reflecting on the importance of genetic diversity in agriculture, Dr. Hawtin emphasized its critical role in ensuring the future of agriculture.

Dr. Cary Fowler, the first Executive Director of the Crop Trust, played a pivotal role in raising awareness and funds for crop diversity conservation. Under his leadership, initiatives like the Crop Diversity Endowment Fund and projects such as the Crop Wild Relatives project have strengthened global conservation efforts. His recent role as Special Envoy for Global Food Security underscores his commitment to enhancing nutrition and agricultural resilience.

Both Dr. Hawtin and Dr. Fowler played key roles in negotiating the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, supporting the conservation and sustainable use of crop diversity.

Their contributions also include the establishment of the iconic Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a secure backup repository for crop diversity. This initiative, driven by their foresight, ensures the long-term preservation of crop genetic resources.

Stefan Schmitz, Executive Director of the Crop Trust, praised Dr. Hawtin and Dr. Fowler as inspirations, highlighting their transformative impact on global agriculture.

Dr. Hawtin and Dr. Fowler will be honored at the Laureate Award Ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa, in October 2024, joining an esteemed cohort of World Food Prize laureates.

The World Food Prize celebrates individuals who have made outstanding contributions to addressing hunger and malnutrition. Dr. Hawtin and Dr. Fowler’s dedication to crop diversity conservation exemplifies their commitment to building resilient and sustainable food systems for future generations.

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