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The French-Monar Latin American Fund

The French-Monar Latin American Fund was established by Edward R. French and Delia Monar French in August 2001. The earnings from this endowment will provide financial support for plant pathologists in Latin America in a variety of ways. These will include assistance to attend meetings of the Caribbean Division of The American Phytopathological Society (APS) or the Latin American Phytopathological Congress (organized by the Latin American Phytopathological Association [ALF]); acquisition of publications and cost of publishing research papers; and membership scholarships to groups of professionals. An advisory committee appointed by the APS Foundation will select the recipients of these funds through a competitive process.

Edward and Delia French

Edward and Delia French have dedicated their lives to plant pathology and providing assistance to those working in this science. They reside in Lima, Peru, but regularly attend the APS Annual Meeting. They are the parents of three children: Vivian, Ronald, and Sandra. Edward French was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1937, his secondary and one year of technical agricultural schooling were in England. He received a B.Sc. degree (cum laude) in agronomy from the University of Rhode Island in 1960, an M.Sc. degree in plant pathology and botany from the University of Minnesota-Saint Paul in 1963, and his Ph.D. degree in plant pathology and plant breeding from North Carolina State University (NCSU) in 1965. In 1983, he completed The Executive Management Program at The Pennsylvania State University.

Edward French represented NCSU/USAID as plant pathology advisor to the Government of Peru (1965–1971) and simultaneously as coleader of the Potato Program (1970–1971). He has also been visiting professor at the National Agrarian University of La Molina (UNALM) since 1967. He arranged for the funding and developed plans for the construction and equipping of the plant pathology and nematology facilities at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Agricultural Experiment Station at La Molina, participated in the development of a graduate program in plant pathology, taught the Methods of Research course, and has served on the thesis committees of more than thirty M.Sc. students. During 1971, he was adjunct assistant professor at NCSU in Raleigh, NC, conducting research on tropical bacterial diseases of potato while working with Dr. Richard Sawyer in the creation of an international potato research center.

In 1972, Edward French was a founding member and head of the Plant Pathology and Nematology Department and facilities developer of the International Potato Center (CIP). In 1973, he organized a CIP Late Blight Strategy Conference with John Niederhauser at CIMMYT, Mexico, and together they formalized the incorporation of the Rockefeller Foundation Late Blight Mexican Program into CIP. He was leader of CIP’s Disease Management Program (1992–1995) and associate director for research (1996–1997), during which time he developed the Global Initiative on Late Blight for which he is editor. Sabbatical leaves were spent as a visiting plant pathologist at the Central Agricultural Research Centre, Gannoruwa, Sri Lanka (1980–1981) and Station de Pathologie Végétale, Rennes, France (1990). He has been scientist emeritus since 1997. Since 1999, Dr. French has been collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture of Peru in the implementation of an Inter-American Development Bank project to provide new laboratories, greenhouses, and conference facilities for its Crop Protection Service (SENASA) in La Molina, Lima.

Edward French has worked on a wide number of crops. He has participated in research teams on diseases of bananas and plantains, field and vegetable crops, potato, sweet potato, and eight other Andean root and tuber crops. Working with numerous collaborators, including L. Vargas, A. Herrera, L. Nielsen, L. Sequeira, and J. Niederhauser, his main achievements include the diagnosis of new bacterial wilt diseases Pseudomonas (Ralstonia) solanacearum wilts of plantain (designating the A -for Amazon- insect-transmitted strain) and races 1 and 3 of potato; development of potato varieties moderately resistant to bacterial wilt, durably resistant to late blight, and resistant to Potato leafroll virus and in some cases also PVX, PVY, or root-knot nematode. Selections made in Peru became varieties Amapola, Caxamarca, and Molinera in the late 1960s, which transformed the main highland peasant subsistence potato production region of northern Peru because they yielded up to 63t/ha in three seasons per year, converting subsistence farmers into prosperous exporters of food. These varieties represented 81% of the potato area planted. These and sister materials became varieties in several other countries of the developing tropical belt of Africa, the Americas, and Asia through collaboration with CIP’s staff (especially C. Martin) and their national counterparts. Thus, Ndinamagara (Mexican Cruza 148, selected by L. C. Gonzales and M. Jackson in Costa Rica) was named in Burundi and covered up to 80% of potato areas in East African nations, yielding around 24t/ha. Potatoes thus became a significant contributor to food needs. Selections became varieties or breeding parents in Bangladesh, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, etc.

Edward French developed an integrated disease control program for potatoes that proved successful in many countries; this was done by integrating the use of resistance to diseases and pests, superior seed programs, cultural methods, and minimal use of pesticides. He also conducted research on the diseases of numerous crops, such as banana, pepper, cotton, etc., to determine the diseases and pests that were causing losses. With these results, technical assistance was given to farmers and technical guides were published.

In collaboration with A. Kelman and L. Gutarra, he determined that the blackleg and soft rot diseases of potato originated in South America, and can be caused not only by the previously described Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora and atroseptica but also by Erwinia chrysanthemi. Also that all of these are tuber seed transmitted from many temperate climate seed producers to the tropics and subtropics. An Andean highland strain of the bacterium Ralstonia (=Pseudomonas) solanacearum that causes bacterial wilt or brown rot of potato was designated Biovar 2-A (Race 3 or potato strain) that causes this disease in cool climates of the tropics, subtropics and temperate lands. Whereas a lowland tropics group of strains of Biovar 2, designated Biovar 2-T, causes bacterial wilt of potato and is an ancestor of Biovar 2-A. (in collaboration with A. C. Hayward, H. El-Nashaar and L. Sequeira).

Edward French has published extensively. His books include: Prospects for the Potato in the Developing World (editor, 1972); “Métodos de Investigación Fitopatológica” (Methods of Plant Pathology Research) (co-author with T. T. Hebert, 1980); Integrated Management of Bacterial Wilt (co-editor with B. Hardy, 1995); five book chapters; and more than 200 articles, manuals, and abstracts. Edward French was a founding member (1966) of the Asociación Peruana de Fitopatologa (Peruvian Plant Pathological Association) and vice president from 1967 to 1968 and was made an honorary member in 1994. Other memberships include: Asociación Latinoamericana de Fitopatología (Latin American Phytopathlogical Association), where he served as president (1970–1974; 1985–1987) and executive secretary (1974–1980; 1992–present); Fellow (1998) of The American Phytopathological Society; member of the APS Caribbean Division of APS; recipient of the APS Frederik L. Wellman Award (2002); and councilor (1973–present) and vice president (1983–1988) of the International Society for Plant Pathology (ISPP). He is a life member of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Sigma Xi. Edward French also belongs to the Asociación Latinoamericana de la Papa (Latin American Potato Association), The Potato Association of America, European Association for Potato Research, and the International Society for Tropical Root Crops.

His contributions to community service include serving as president of Tuqui Urco Housing Development; member of the Jakob Eriksson Prize Commission, Stockholm; collaboration in agricultural and social development and water quality in the Huanuco Department of Peru. He was granted honorary citizenship by the Mayor of Huanuco in 1985. The Edward R. French Boardroom was named to recognize his contributions as board president for the American School of Lima, Peru. He was a member of the International Advisory Committee, First Asian Conference on Plant Pathology, Beijing (August 2000), and served on the Panel of Experts for the ISPP Media Workshop on Biotechnology for Plant Pathology in Sustainable Agriculture in Beijing. He is a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for the John & Ann Niederhauser Endowment (JANE) Award, APS Office of International Programs (2000–2003). Edward French has been listed in the Marquis Who’s Who in the World since 1982; Top People in Peru since 1993; Marquis Who’s Who in Science and Engineering since 1994; and he was added to the Alpha Zeta Centennial Honor roll 1997.

The generosity of Edward and Delia French will ensure that future generations of plant pathologists working in Latin America will have opportunities for professional development that would not otherwise be possible. The recognition of the importance of attending professional meetings has been a major motivation for their gifts. As a result, the APS Foundation is now able to extend its ability to assist our international colleagues in Latin American countries.