Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Scientist Receives Honour from China

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Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dr. Vern Burrows, an emeritus scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Ottawa Research and Development Centre, has been presented with The International Scientific and Technological Cooperation Award of the People's Republic of China.

The award is granted to foreign scientists, engineers, managers, or organizations that have made important contributions to China's bilateral or multilateral scientific and technological cooperation.

Collaborating with agricultural centres and scientists in China, Dr. Burrows developed oat varieties that grow well in that country's dry and saline soil conditions, opening up new economic opportunities for Chinese farmers and increasing China's food security. His ongoing collaboration has helped strengthen the relationship between China and Canada.

"Oats are an important crop that can help us solve many problems related to agriculture, health, and nutrition. I have been committed to finding these solutions."

- Dr. Vern Burrows, Research Scientist Emeritus, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dr. Burrows was named to the award in 2014, but was unable to travel to China at that time. A Chinese delegation visiting Ottawa on February 25th, 2016, took the opportunity to present him with the award in person.


Dr. Burrows is an internationally recognized authority on oat breeding and oat utilization. For over six decades, his research has helped revolutionize the production and utilization of oats through the development and introduction of a vast array of different oat types and varieties to meet the specific needs of farmers and industry. He has bred and registered an incredible 28 new oat varieties in his career.

"His research has generated a tremendous legacy, not only for Canadian agricultural, but for the advancement of international cooperation addressing global food security challenges."

- Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Two of his most noted varieties are "Donald," an oat that flowers even when days are short, and "Cavena Nuda," also known as the "naked oat" due to its lack of hull or hairs. The naked oat requires less processing, is cheaper to store and transport than ordinary oats, and is a gluten-free grain promoted as a rice replacement for its high levels of energy, protein, and antioxidants.


Dr. Burrows has been recognized with numerous awards for his professional contributions and volunteer work. These include the Order of Canada (2001), the Gold Medal of Friendship from China (2003), and, to honour his oat science work in China, a bronze bust of his likeness was erected by the Baicheng Academy of Agricultural Sciences (2012). He was inducted into the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame in 2014.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) congratulates Dr. Burrows on this new recognition of his outstanding contributions to agriculture, food, and international scientific collaboration.

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Photo gallery

Dr. Vern Burrows in a lab
Dr. Vern Burrows in a lab at ORDC
Dr. Vern Burrows in a field of oats
Dr. Vern Burrows in a field of oats on the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa
The bronze bust of Dr. Burrows
The bronze bust of Dr. Burrows erected by the Baicheng Academy of Agricultural Sciences in China
Dr. Burrows and Dr. Marcotte
Dr. Vern Burrows at the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame induction ceremony with Dr. Michèle Marcotte, Director of Research, Development and Technology at AAFC’s Ottawa Research and Development Centre

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