Interview with Dr. Rene Van Acker about sustainability in agriculture

In this episode, we featured Dr. Rene Van Acker, Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph. What is sustainable agriculture? It seems that there are many conflicting thoughts on this. To be sustainable, should all of our agriculture be organic? Can we rely on systems like hydroponics or even urban farming to serve our growing population? With fungal diseases like wheat leaf rust wreaking havoc, how do we manage it to ensure food security? Where does genetic modifications come into the picture? Sustainable agriculture is anything but a simple conversation, but Rene was the perfect person to take us through the topic. In this conversation, we talked about what ‘sustainable’ means, how we can apply sustainability principles to agriculture, Canadian farming, weed management, and lots more.


Dr. Rene Van Acker is Professor and Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) at the University of Guelph. Prior to his appointment as Dean, Rene was Associate Dean External of OAC (2009-16) and previously chair of the department of Plant Agriculture (2006-09). Prior to his appointments at Guelph, Rene was a professor at the University of Manitoba (1996-2006). Rene is a co-founder of the Food Institute at the University of Guelph (now the Arrell Food Institute) and has played a key roles in fundraising for OAC since 2009. Rene's research interests include weed management and agronomy. He has published over 130 peer-reviewed works to-date and over 300 other non-peer reviewed contributions. His research on coexistence and genetically modified crops has led to work in Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, France, Germany, Australia, and the US. Rene grew up on a farm in southern Ontario. He holds BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Guelph and a PhD from the University of Reading (UK).

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