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Dr. Keith Downey receives Saskatchewan Order of Merit

Photo courtesy of Ag-West Bio.


May 25, 2016 - Richard Keith Downey, O.C., F.R.S.C., received the 2016 Saskatchewan Order of Merit, the province's highest honour, in a ceremony May 24, 2016 in Saskatoon.

Born in Saskatoon, Dr. Keith Downey earned degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and Cornell University. He joined the Agriculture Canada Research Station at Lethbridge as an alfalfa breeder, producing the world's first winter hardy, wilt resistant alfalfa variety before returning to the Saskatoon Research Station in 1958 to direct the oilseed breeding program. It was there Dr. Downey earned a world‐wide reputation as one of the "Fathers of Canola" for converting rapeseed into nutritionally superior canola.

As a plant breeder, he is associated with the release of 13 rapeseed/canola varieties and five condiment mustard varieties. His work with canola has resulted in the acreage expanding from only a few thousand in the 1950-60s to more than 20 million in 2014 and into a multi‐billion dollar industry for Saskatchewan and Canada. Equally important, canola oil is a significant factor in improving health and reducing health care costs due to its positive effect on cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Downey's expertise and contributions to scientific research are recognized and in demand world‐wide. He has held numerous professional and administrative positions with a broad range of organizations. He is an inductee in the Saskatchewan and the Canadian Agricultural Halls of Fame. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada; a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Agriculture Institute of Canada; and holds Honorary Doctorates in Science from the
University of Saskatchewan and Law from the University of Lethbridge.

Established in 1985, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit recognizes excellence, achievement and contributions to the social, cultural and economic well-being of the province and its people. It acknowledges individuals who have made their mark in the arts, agriculture, business, industry, community leadership, occupations, professions, public service, research and volunteer service.

Read more about Dr. Keith Downey and the development of canola in Canada.


May 26, 2016  By Janet Kanters


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