Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton Hangs Up Lab Coat

Syngenta’s Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton, a founder of biotechnology, is retiring after a celebrated career—but her efforts will continue to influence progress in agriculture and for humanity for generations to come.

As a founder of modern plant biotechnology, Chilton is directly linked to the world’s incredible improvements in crop productivity over the past two decades. Her ground-breaking work in academia and the private sector led to the development and commercialization of biotech crops, which help farmers effectively manage damaging insects, disease complexes, weed pressure, and abiotic stress — resulting in greater yields, profitability and efficiency.

“The American Soybean Association (ASA) congratulates Mary-Dell Chilton on her retirement after a tremendous career in biotechnology,” said ASA President John Heisdorffer, a soybean farmer from Keota, Iowa. “As a farmer who has been raising soybeans and corn for over 30 years, I’ve witnessed first-hand how her scientific discoveries in plant genetics and biotechnology have led to significant yield improvements in our crops. The varieties and hybrids we plant today have much greater resistance to a variety of pests and diseases, and are also much more tolerant to extreme weather conditions. On behalf of soybean farmers across the United States, we truly appreciate Mary-Dell Chilton’s tireless research efforts which led to many of these advancements.”

Chilton’s enduring contributions to agriculture are recognized in countless accolades, including the prestigious World Food Prize, which is the definitive international award recognizing individuals who have “increased the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.”

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