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Glenn Recognized for Crop-protectant Technology / February 13, 2002 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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National news release

Story about Glenn's research

Joseph Burton


Glenn Recognized for Crop-protectant Technology

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
February 13, 2002

BELTSVILLE, Md., February 5, 2002--D. Michael Glenn, a soil scientist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), will be recognized by the agency on Feb. 13 as an “Outstanding Senior Research Scientist of 2001.” ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Glenn has been the force behind a whole new technology for protecting fruit trees and other horticultural crops against insects, drought, sunburn and other stresses using nontoxic, particle films of kaolin, a type of mineral. He conceived the concept at ARS’ Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, W.Va., about nine years ago.

Glenn and other ARS scientists will be honored at a 1 p.m. ceremony at the agency's headquarters in Beltsville. As one of three outstanding senior research scientists, Glenn will receive a plaque, a cash award and an additional $25,000 for support of his research program.

“Dr. Glenn pioneered the development and application of particle film technology and is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in its application to sustainable and organic food production,” said Edward B. Knipling, ARS acting administrator. “The multifaceted aspects of this technology make it likely that it will have an impact on many aspects of agricultural production systems around the world.”

After the 1996 Congressional mandate to reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides in food production, Glenn and his team involved a major producer of kaolin products--Engelhard Corporation of Iselin, N.J.--in a cooperative research and development agreement. Together, Glenn and Engelhard have assembled a team of scientific collaborators worldwide to test and validate the new technology.

The team comprises 26 U.S. scientists, including colleagues at seven ARS locations, as well as scientists in Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Middle East. Glenn organized an extremely smooth flow of information in this process and participated actively with Engelhard to pursue “fast-track” registration of kaolin particle films with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The particle films also won the Organic Materials Review Institute’s approval for organic certification in the United States. Kaolin was already used in food processing as a food additive, as well as in pottery, paper and paints.

Glenn and ARS coworkers, together with Engelhard, now hold seven patents on the technology, and more patent applications are pending. The white, processed kaolin powder makes treated crops inhospitable to feeding and egg-laying insects, which are not likely to develop resistance to the mineral. It also reflects both infrared and ultraviolet rays, thereby protecting trees from drought stress and fruit from sunburn. Newer formulations of particle film are also proving effective against some diseases and freeze damage.

Glenn received a technology transfer award for this technology from ARS in 1998 and from the Federal Laboratory Consortium in 2000.

He began his ARS career in 1982 as a soil scientist searching for a way to stop the erosion of orchard floors. He developed a method of planting trees in killed sod that increased early fruit yields up to 100 percent, giving growers a significant boost in return. The system is now a recommended orchard practice throughout the East and Southeast.

In addition to his ARS position, Glenn also holds adjunct professorships with West Virginia University, the University of Maryland and Pennsylvania State University.

Glenn received his doctorate in crop science from Oregon State University in 1980. Prior to that, he earned a master of science degree in agronomy at Colorado State University in 1977 and a master of arts degree in plant ecology from the University of Colorado in 1974. In 1972, he graduated from Fort Lewis College with a bachelor of science degree in botany.

He is a member of the American Society for Horticultural Science.

Glenn and his wife Susan live in Shepherdstown, W.Va., with their son Logan and daughter Annalia.

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Last Modified: 3/5/2002
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