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Norman Borlaug

Borlaug speaking at the Ministerial Methodist Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology in June 2003
Born March 25, 1914(1914-03-25)
Cresco, Iowa
Died September 12, 2009 (aged 95)
Dallas, Texas
Citizenship United States
Nationality American
Fields Agronomy
Institutions DuPont
Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program (Mexico)
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
Texas A&M University
Alma mater University of Minnesota
Known for His role in the Green Revolution, helping develop semi-dwarf, high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties, and as a founder of the World Food Prize
Notable awards Nobel Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Congressional Gold Medal, National Medal of Science, Padma Vibhushan, Rotary International Award

Norman Ernest Borlaug (March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009)[1] was an American agronomist, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate who has been deemed the father of the Green Revolution.[2] Borlaug was one of only six people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.[3] He was also a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honour.

Borlaug received his Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics from the University of Minnesota in 1942. He took up an agricultural research position in Mexico, where he developed semi-dwarf, high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties.

During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these high-yielding varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. As a result, Mexico became a net exporter of wheat by 1963. Between 1965 and 1970, wheat yields nearly doubled in Pakistan and India, greatly improving the food security in those nations.[4] These collective increases in yield have been labeled the Green Revolution, and Borlaug is often credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation.[5] He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.

Later in his life, he helped apply these methods of increasing food production to Asia and Africa.[6]

Contents

Early life, education, and family

Borlaug was the great-grandchild of Norwegian immigrants to the United States. Ole Olson Dybevig and Solveig Thomasdotter Rinde, from Leikanger, Norway, emigrated to Dane, Wisconsin, in 1854. The family eventually moved to the small Norwegian-American community of Saude, near Cresco, Iowa. The family became a member of the Saude Lutheran Church where Norman was both baptized and confirmed.

The eldest of four children — his three younger sisters were Palma Lillian (Behrens; 1916–2004), Charlotte (Culbert; b. 1919) and Helen (1921–1921) — Borlaug was born to Henry Oliver (1889–1971) and Clara (Vaala) Borlaug (1888–1972) on his grandparents' farm in Saude in 1914. From age seven to nineteen, he worked on the 106 acre (43 hectare) family farm west of Protivin, Iowa, fishing, hunting, and raising maize, oats, timothy-grass, cattle, pigs and chickens. He attended the one-teacher, one-room New Oregon #8 rural school in Howard County up through eighth grade. Today, the school building, built in 1865, is owned by the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation as part of "Project Borlaug Legacy".[7] At Cresco High School, Borlaug played on the football, baseball and wrestling teams, on the latter of which his coach, Dave Barthelma, continually encouraged him to "give 105%".[citation needed]

He attributed his decision to leave the farm and pursue further education to his grandfather, Nels Olson Borlaug (1859 to 1935), who strongly encouraged Borlaug's learning, once saying, "You're wiser to fill your head now if you want to fill your belly later on."[8] Through a Depression-era program known as the National Youth Administration, he was able to enroll at the University of Minnesota in 1933. Initially, Borlaug failed the entrance exam, but was accepted to the school's newly created two-year General College. After two quarters, he transferred to the College of Agriculture's forestry program. While at the University of Minnesota, he was a member of the varsity wrestling team, reaching the Big Ten semifinals, and helped introduce the sport to Minnesota high schools by putting on exhibition matches around the state. "Wrestling taught me some valuable lessons ... I always figured I could hold my own against the best in the world. It made me tough. Many times, I drew on that strength. It's an inappropriate crutch perhaps, but that's the way I'm made".[9] Borlaug was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1992.

To finance his studies, Borlaug periodically had to put his education on hold and take a job. One of these jobs, in 1935, was as a leader in the Civilian Conservation Corps, working with the unemployed on U.S. federal projects. Many of the people who worked for him were starving. He later recalled, "I saw how food changed them ... All of this left scars on me".[10] From 1935 to 1938, before and after receiving his Bachelor of Science forestry degree in 1937, Borlaug worked for the United States Forestry Service at stations in Massachusetts and Idaho. He spent one summer in the middle fork of Idaho's Salmon River, the most isolated piece of wilderness in the lower 48 states at the time.[10]

In the last months of his undergraduate education, Borlaug attended a Sigma Xi lecture by Elvin Charles Stakman, a professor and soon-to-be head of the plant pathology group at the University of Minnesota. The event was pivotal for Borlaug's future life. Stakman, in his speech titled "These Shifty Little Enemies that Destroy our Food Crops", discussed the manifestation of the plant disease rust, a parasitic fungus that feeds on phytonutrients, in wheat, oat, and barley crops across the U.S. He had discovered that special plant breeding methods created plants resistant to rust. His research greatly interested Borlaug, and when Borlaug's job at the Forest Service was eliminated due to budget cuts, he asked Stakman if he should go into forest pathology. Stakman advised him to focus on plant pathology instead,[9] and Borlaug subsequently re-enrolled to the University to study plant pathology under Stakman. Borlaug received his Master of Science degree in 1940 and Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics in 1942.

Borlaug was a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. He met his wife, Margaret Gibson, while in college, as he waited tables at a university Dinkytown coffee shop where they both worked. They had three children, Norma Jean "Jeanie" Laube, Scotty (who died soon after birth due to spina bifida), and William Borlaug, five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. On March 8, 2007, Margaret Borlaug died at the age of 95, following a fall.[11] They had been married for 69 years. Borlaug spent the last years of his life in northern Dallas although, as a result of his global humanitarian efforts, he actually resided there only a few weeks of the year.[citation needed]

Career

From 1942 to 1944, Borlaug was employed as a microbiologist at DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware. It was planned that he would lead research on industrial and agricultural bacteriocides, fungicides, and preservatives. However, following the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Borlaug tried to enlist in the military, but was rejected under wartime labor regulations; his lab was converted to conduct research for the United States armed forces. One of his first projects was to develop glue that could withstand the warm saltwater of the South Pacific. The Imperial Japanese Navy had gained control of the island of Guadalcanal, and patrolled the sky and sea by day. The only way that U.S. forces could supply the troops stranded on the island was by approaching at night by speedboat, and jettisoning boxes of canned food and other supplies into the surf to wash ashore. The problem was that the glue holding these containers together disintegrated in saltwater. Within weeks, Borlaug and his colleagues had developed an adhesive that resisted corrosion, allowing food and supplies to reach the stranded Marines. Other tasks included work with camouflage, canteen disinfectants, DDT to control malaria, and insulation for small electronics.[10]

In 1940, the Avila Camacho administration took office in Mexico. The administration's primary goal for Mexican agriculture was augmenting the nation's industrialization and economic growth. U.S. Vice President-Elect Henry Wallace, who was instrumental in persuading the Rockefeller Foundation to work with the Mexican government in agricultural development, saw Avila Camacho's ambitions as beneficial to U.S. economic and military interests.[12] The Rockefeller Foundation contacted E.C. Stakman and two other leading agronomists. They developed a proposal for a new organization, the Office of Special Studies, as part of the Mexican Government, but directed by the Rockefeller Foundation. It was to be staffed with both U.S. and Mexican scientists, focusing on soil development, maize and wheat production, and plant pathology.

Stakman chose Dr. J. George "Dutch" Harrar as project leader. Harrar immediately set out to hire Borlaug as head of the newly established Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program in Mexico; Borlaug declined, choosing to finish his war service at DuPont.[13] In July 1944, after rejecting DuPont's offer to double his salary, and temporarily leaving behind his pregnant wife and 14-month old daughter, he flew to Mexico City to head the new program as a geneticist and plant pathologist.[10]

In 1964, he was made the director of the International Wheat Improvement Program at El Batán, Texcoco, on the eastern fringes of Mexico City, as part of the newly established Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo, or CIMMYT), an autonomous international research training institute developed from the Cooperative Wheat Research Production Program, with funding jointly undertaken by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and the Mexican government.

Borlaug officially retired from the position in 1979. But he remained a senior consultant at the CIMMYT and continued to be involved in plant research at CIMMYT with wheat, triticale, barley, maize, and high-altitude sorghum, in addition to taking up charitable and educational roles.

Borlaug taught and researched at Texas A&M University from 1984 till his death. He was the Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture at the university and the holder of the Eugene Butler Endowed Chair in Agricultural Biotechnology.

Wheat research in Mexico

Norman Borlaug and George Harrar, 1943

The Cooperative Wheat Research Production Program, a joint venture by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, involved research in genetics, plant breeding, plant pathology, entomology, agronomy, soil science, and cereal technology. The goal of the project was to boost wheat production in Mexico, which at the time was importing a large portion of its grain. George Harrar, a plant pathologist, recruited and assembled the wheat research team in late 1944. The four other members were Edward Wellhausen, maize breeder, John Niederhauser, potato breeder, William Colwell, and Norman Borlaug, all from the United States.[14] Borlaug would remain with the project for sixteen years. During this time, he bred a series of remarkably successful high-yield, disease-resistant, semi-dwarf wheat.

Wheat is the third most produced cereal crop

Borlaug said that his first couple of years in Mexico were difficult. He lacked trained scientists and equipment. Native farmers were hostile toward the wheat program because of serious crop losses from 1939 to 1941 due to stem rust. "It often appeared to me that I had made a dreadful mistake in accepting the position in Mexico," he wrote in the epilogue to his book, Norman Borlaug on World Hunger.[10] He spent the first 10 years breeding wheat cultivars resistant to disease, including rust. In that time, his group made 6,000 individual crossings of wheat.[15]

Double wheat season

Initially, his work had been concentrated in the central highlands, in the village of Chapingo near Texcoco, where the problems with rust and poor soil were most prevalent. But he realized that he could speed up breeding by taking advantage of the country's two growing seasons. In the summer he would breed wheat in the central highlands as usual, then immediately take the seeds north to the Yaqui Valley research station near Ciudad Obregón, Sonora. The difference in altitudes and temperatures would allow more crops to be grown each year.[citation needed]

His boss, George Harrar, was against this expansion. Besides the extra costs of doubling the work, Borlaug's plan went against a then-held principle of agronomy that has since been disproved. It was believed that seeds needed a rest period after harvesting, in order to store energy for germination before being planted. Harrar vetoed his plan, causing Borlaug to resign. Elvin Stakman, who was visiting the project, calmed the situation, talking Borlaug into withdrawing his resignation and Harrar into allowing the double wheat season. As of 1945, wheat would then be bred at locations 700 miles (1000 km) apart, 10 degrees apart in latitude, and 8500 feet (2600 m) apart in altitude. This was called "shuttle breeding".[citation needed]

Locations of Borlaug's research stations, at Yaqui Valley and Chapingo

As an unexpected benefit of the double wheat season, the new breeds did not have problems with photoperiodism. Normally, wheat varieties cannot adapt to new environments, due to the changing periods of sunlight. Borlaug later recalled, "As it worked out, in the north, we were planting when the days were getting shorter, at low elevation and high temperature. Then we'd take the seed from the best plants south and plant it at high elevation, when days were getting longer and there was lots of rain. Soon we had varieties that fit the whole range of conditions. That wasn't supposed to happen by the books".[15] This meant that the project wouldn't need to start separate breeding programs for each geographic region of the planet.

Increasing disease resistance through multiline varieties

Because pureline (genotypically identical) plant varieties often only have one or a few major genes for disease resistance, and plant diseases such as rust are continuously producing new races that can overcome a pureline's resistance, multiline varieties were developed. Multiline varieties are mixtures of several phenotypically similar purelines which each have different genes for disease resistance. By having similar heights, flowering and maturity dates, seed colors, and agronomic characteristics, they remain compatible with each other, and do not reduce yields when grown together on the field.[citation needed]

In 1953, Borlaug extended this technique by suggesting that several purelines with different resistance genes should be developed through backcross methods using one recurrent parent.[16] Backcrossing involves crossing a hybrid and subsequent generations with a recurrent parent. As a result, the genotype of the backcrossed progeny becomes increasingly similar to that of the recurrent parent. Borlaug's method would allow the various different disease-resistant genes from several donor parents to be transferred into a single recurrent parent. To make sure each line has different resistant genes, each donor parent is used in a separate backcross program. Between five and ten of these lines may then be mixed depending upon the races of pathogen present in the region. As this process is repeated, some lines will become susceptible to the pathogen. These lines can easily be replaced with new resistant lines. As new sources of resistance become available, new lines are developed. In this way, the loss of crops is kept to a minimum, because only one or a few lines become susceptible to a pathogen within a given season, and all other crops are unaffected by the disease. Because the disease would spread more slowly than if the entire population were susceptible, this also reduces the damage to susceptible lines. There is still the possibility that a new race of pathogen will develop to which all lines are susceptible, however.[17]

Dwarfing

Dwarfing is an important agronomic quality for wheat; dwarf plants produce thick stems. The cultivars Borlaug worked with had tall, thin stalks. Taller wheat grasses better compete for sunlight, but tend to collapse under the weight of the extra grain—a trait called lodging— from the rapid growth spurts induced by nitrogen fertilizer Borlaug used in the poor soil. To prevent this, he bred wheat to favor shorter, stronger stalks that could better support larger seed heads. In 1953, he acquired a Japanese dwarf variety of wheat called Norin 10 developed by Orville Vogel, that had been crossed with a high-yielding American cultivar called Brevor 14.[18] Norin 10/Brevor is semi-dwarf (one-half to two-thirds the height of standard varieties) and produces more stalks and thus more heads of grain per plant. Also, larger amounts of assimilate were partitioned into the actual grains, further increasing the yield. Borlaug crossbred the semi-dwarf Norin 10/Brevor cultivar with his disease-resistant cultivars to produce wheat varieties that were adapted to tropical and sub-tropical climates.[19]

Borlaug's new semi-dwarf, disease-resistant varieties, called Pitic 62 and Penjamo 62, changed the potential yield of spring wheat dramatically. By 1963, 95% of Mexico's wheat crops used the semi-dwarf varieties developed by Borlaug. That year, the harvest was six times larger than in 1944, the year Borlaug arrived in Mexico. Mexico had become fully self-sufficient in wheat production, and a net exporter of wheat.[20] Four other high yield varieties were also released, in 1964: Lerma Rojo 64, Siete Cerros, Sonora 64, and Super X.

Expansion to South Asia: The Green Revolution

Wheat yields in Mexico, India, and Pakistan, 1950 to 2004. kg/HA baseline 500

In 1961 to 1962, Borlaug's dwarf spring wheat strains were sent for multilocation testing in the International Wheat Rust Nursery, organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In March 1962, a few of these strains were grown in the fields of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in Pusa, New Delhi, India. In May 1962, M. S. Swaminathan, a member of IARI's wheat program, requested of Dr. B. P. Pal, Director of IARI, to arrange for the visit of Borlaug to India and to obtain a wide range of dwarf wheat seed possessing the Norin 10 dwarfing genes.[citation needed] The letter was forwarded to the Indian Ministry of Agriculture, which arranged with the Rockefeller Foundation for Borlaug's visit. In March 1963, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican government sent Borlaug and Dr. Robert Glenn Anderson to India to continue his work. He supplied 100 kg (220 lb) of seed from each of the four most promising strains and 630 promising selections in advanced generations to the IARI in October 1963, and test plots were subsequently planted at Delhi, Ludhiana, Pant Nagar, Kanpur, Pune and Indore.[citation needed] Anderson stayed as head of the Rockefeller Foundation Wheat Program in New Delhi until 1975.

During the mid-1960s, the Indian subcontinent was at war, and experiencing widespread famine and starvation, even though the U.S. was making emergency shipments of millions of tons of grain, including over one fifth of its total wheat, to the region.[14] The Indian and Pakistani bureaucracies and the region's cultural opposition to new agricultural techniques initially prevented Borlaug from fulfilling his desire to immediately plant the new wheat strains there. By the summer of 1965, the famine became so acute that the governments stepped in and allowed his projects to go forward.[10]

Biologist Paul R. Ehrlich wrote in his 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb, "The battle to feed all of humanity is over ... In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now." Ehrlich said, "I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971," and "India couldn't possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980."[21]

In 1965, after extensive testing, Borlaug's team, under Anderson, began its effort by importing about 450 tons of Lerma Rojo and Sonora 64 semi-dwarf seed varieties: 250 tons went to Pakistan and 200 to India. They encountered many obstacles. Their first shipment of wheat was held up in Mexican customs and so could not be shipped from the port at Guaymas in time for proper planting.[citation needed] Instead, it was sent via a 30-truck convoy from Mexico to the U.S. port in Los Angeles, encountering delays at the Mexico - United States border. Once the convoy entered the U.S., it had to take a detour, as the U.S. National Guard had closed the freeway due to Watts riots in Los Angeles. When the seeds reached Los Angeles, a Mexican bank refused to honor Pakistan treasury's payment of US$100,000, because the check contained three misspelled words. Still, the seed was loaded onto a freighter destined for Bombay, India, and Karachi, Pakistan. Twelve hours into the freighter's voyage, war broke out between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region. Borlaug received a telegraph from the Pakistani minister of agriculture, Malik Khuda Bakhsh Bucha: "I'm sorry to hear you are having trouble with my check, but I've got troubles, too. Bombs are falling on my front lawn. Be patient, the money is in the bank ..."[10]

These delays prevented Borlaug's group from conducting the germination tests needed to determine seed quality and proper seeding levels. They started planting immediately, and often worked in sight of artillery flashes. A week later, Borlaug discovered that his seeds were germinating at less than half the normal rate.[citation needed] It later turned out that the seeds had been damaged in a Mexican warehouse by over-fumigation with a pesticide. He immediately ordered all locations to double their seeding rates.[citation needed]

The initial yields of Borlaug's crops were higher than any ever harvested in South Asia. The countries subsequently committed to importing large quantities of both the Lerma Rojo 64 and Sonora 64 varieties. In 1966, India imported 18,000 tons —the largest purchase and import of any seed in the world at that time. In 1967, Pakistan imported 42,000 tons, and Turkey 21,000 tons. Pakistan's import, planted on 1.5 million acres (6,100 km²), produced enough wheat to seed the entire nation's wheatland the following year.[14] By 1968, when Ehrlich's book was released, William Gaud of the United States Agency for International Development was calling Borlaug's work a "Green Revolution". High yields led to a shortage of various utilities — labor to harvest the crops, bullock carts to haul it to the threshing floor, jute bags, trucks, rail cars, and grain storage facilities. Some local governments were forced to close school buildings temporarily to use them for grain storage.[10]

Wheat yields in developing countries, 1950 to 2004, kg/HA baseline 500

In Pakistan, wheat yields nearly doubled, from 4.6 million tons in 1965 to 7.3 million tons in 1970; Pakistan was self-sufficient in wheat production by 1968.[citation needed] Yields were over 21 million tons by 2000. In India, yields increased from 12.3 million tons in 1965 to 20.1 million tons in 1970. By 1974, India was self-sufficient in the production of all cereals. By 2000, India was harvesting a record 76.4 million tons (2.81 billion bushels) of wheat. Since the 1960s, food production in both nations has increased faster than the rate of population growth.[citation needed] Paul Waggoner, of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, calculates that India's use of high-yield farming has prevented 100 million acres (400,000 km²) of virgin land from being converted into farmland—an area about the size of California, or 13.6% of the total area of India.[22] The use of these wheat varieties has also had a substantial effect on production in six Latin American countries, six countries in the Near and Middle East, and several others in Africa.[citation needed]

Borlaug's work with wheat led to the development of high-yield semi-dwarf indica and japonica rice cultivars at the International Rice Research Institute, started by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and at China's Hunan Rice Research Institute. Borlaug's colleagues at the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research also developed and introduced a high-yield variety of rice throughout most of Asia. Land devoted to the semi-dwarf wheat and rice varieties in Asia expanded from 200 acres (0.8 km²) in 1965 to over 40 million acres (160,000 km²) in 1970. In 1970, this land accounted for over 10% of the more productive cereal land in Asia.[14]

Nobel Peace Prize

For his contributions to the world food supply, Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. Norwegian officials notified his wife in Mexico City at 4:00 am, but Borlaug had already left for the test fields in the Toluca valley, about 40 miles (65 km) west of Mexico City. A chauffeur took her to the fields to inform her husband. According to his daughter, Jeanie Laube, "My mom said, 'You won the Nobel Peace Prize,' and he said, 'No, I haven't', ... It took some convincing ... He thought the whole thing was a hoax".[10] He was awarded the prize on December 10. In his Nobel Lecture the following day, he speculated on his award: "When the Nobel Peace Prize Committee designated me the recipient of the 1970 award for my contribution to the 'green revolution', they were in effect, I believe, selecting an individual to symbolize the vital role of agriculture and food production in a world that is hungry, both for bread and for peace".[23]

Borlaug hypothesis

Borlaug continually advocated increasing crop yields as a means to curb deforestation. The large role he played in both increasing crop yields and promoting this view has led to this methodology being called by agricultural economists the "Borlaug hypothesis", namely that increasing the productivity of agriculture on the best farmland can help control deforestation by reducing the demand for new farmland. According to this view, assuming that global food demand is on the rise, restricting crop usage to traditional low-yield methods would also require at least one of the following: the world population to decrease, either voluntarily or as a result of mass starvations; or the conversion of forest land into crop land. It is thus argued that high-yield techniques are ultimately saving ecosystems from destruction. On a global scale, this view holds strictly true ceteris paribus, if all land either consists of forests or is used for agriculture. But other land uses exist, such as urban areas, pasture, or fallow, so further research is necessary to ascertain what land has been converted for what purposes, in order to determine how true this view remains. Increased profits from high-yield production may also induce cropland expansion in any case, although as world food needs decrease, this expansion may decrease as well.[24]

Criticisms and his view of critics

Borlaug's name is nearly synonymous with the Green Revolution, against which many criticisms have been mounted over the decades by environmentalists, nutritionists, progressives, and economists. Throughout his years of research, Borlaug's programs often faced opposition by people who consider genetic crossbreeding to be unnatural or to have negative effects.[25] Borlaug's work has been criticized for bringing large-scale monoculture, input-intensive farming techniques to countries that had previously relied on subsistence farming.[26] These farming techniques reap large profits for U.S. agribusiness and agrochemical corporations such as Monsanto Company and have been criticized for widening social inequality in the countries owing to uneven food distribution while forcing a capitalist agenda of U.S. corporations onto countries that had undergone land reform.[27]

Other concerns of his critics and critics of biotechnology in general include: that the construction of roads in populated third-world areas could lead to the destruction of wilderness; the crossing of genetic barriers; the inability of crops to fulfill all nutritional requirements; the decreased biodiversity from planting a small number of varieties; the environmental and economic effects of inorganic fertilizer and pesticides; the amount of herbicide sprayed on fields of herbicide-resistant crops.[28]

Borlaug dismissed most claims of critics, but did take certain concerns seriously. He stated that his work has been "a change in the right direction, but it has not transformed the world into a Utopia".[29] Of environmental lobbyists he stated, "some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things".[30]

Later roles

Following his retirement, Borlaug had continued to participate actively in teaching, research and activism. He spent much of the year based at CIMMYT in Mexico, conducting research, and four months of the year serving at Texas A&M University, where he had been a distinguished professor of international agriculture since 1984. In 1999, the university's Board of Regents named its US$16 million Center for Southern Crop Improvement in honor of Borlaug. He worked in the building's Heep Center, and taught one semester each year.[10]

Production in Africa

In the early 1980s, environmental groups that were opposed to Borlaug's methods campaigned against his planned expansion of efforts into Africa. They prompted the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations and the World Bank to stop funding most of his African agriculture projects. Western European governments were persuaded to stop supplying fertilizer to Africa. According to David Seckler, former Director General of the International Water Management Institute, "the environmental community in the 1980s went crazy pressuring the donor countries and the big foundations not to support ideas like inorganic fertilizers for Africa."[22]

In 1984, during the Ethiopian famine, Ryoichi Sasakawa, the chairman of the Japan Shipbuilding Industry Foundation (now the Nippon Foundation), contacted the semi-retired Borlaug, wondering why the methods used in Asia were not extended to Africa, and hoping Borlaug could help. He managed to convince Borlaug to help with this new effort,[31] and subsequently founded the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) to coordinate the project.

Nigerian exchange students meet Norman Borlaug (third from right) at the World Food seminar, 2003

The SAA is a research and extension organization that aims to increase food production in African countries that are struggling with food shortages. "I assumed we'd do a few years of research first," Borlaug later recalled, "but after I saw the terrible circumstances there, I said, 'Let's just start growing'."[22] Soon, Borlaug and the SAA had projects in seven countries. Yields of maize and sorghum in developed African countries doubled between 1983 and 1985.[32] Yields of wheat, cassava, and cowpeas also increased in these countries.[citation needed] At present, program activities are under way in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda.

From 1986 to 2009, Borlaug was the President of the SAA. That year, a joint venture between The Carter Center and SAA was launched called Sasakawa-Global 2000 (SG 2000).[33] The program focuses on food, population and agricultural policy.[34] Since then, more than 8 million African, small-scale farmers in 15 countries have been trained in SAA farming techniques, which have helped them to double or triple grain production.[35] Those elements that allowed Borlaug's projects to succeed in India and Pakistan, such as well-organized economies and transportation and irrigation systems, are severely lacking throughout Africa, posing additional obstacles to increasing yields. Because of this, Borlaug's initial projects were restricted to developed regions of the continent.

Despite these setbacks, Borlaug found encouragement. Visiting Ethiopia in 1994, Jimmy Carter won Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's support for a campaign seeking to aid farmers, using the fertilizer diammonium phosphate and Borlaug's methods. The following season, Ethiopia recorded the largest harvests of major crops in history, with a 32% increase in production, and a 15% increase in average yield over the previous season. For Borlaug, the rapid increase in yields suggests that there is still hope for higher food production throughout sub-Saharan Africa.[22]

World Food Prize

The World Food Prize is an international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The prize was created in 1986 by Norman Borlaug, as a way to recognize personal accomplishments, and as a means of education by using the Prize to establish role models for others. The first prize was given to Borlaug's former colleague, M. S. Swaminathan, in 1987, for his work in India. The next year, Swaminathan used the US$250,000 prize to start the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation for research on sustainable development topics.

Online education

At the DuPont Agriculture & Nutrition Media Day held in Des Moines, Iowa, on September 25, 2000, Borlaug announced the launch of Norman Borlaug University, an Internet-based learning company for the agriculture and food industry personnel. The University was unable to expand the necessary content or customer base, and since late 2001 has been defunct.

The future of global farming and food supply

The limited potential for land expansion for cultivation worried Borlaug, who, in March 2005, stated that, "we will have to double the world food supply by 2050." With 85% of future growth in food production having to come from lands already in use, he recommends a multidisciplinary research focus to further increase yields, mainly through increased crop immunity to large-scale diseases, such as the rust fungus, which affects all cereals but rice. His dream is to "transfer rice immunity to cereals such as wheat, maize, sorghum and barley, and transfer bread-wheat proteins (gliadin and glutenin) to other cereals, especially rice and maize".[36]

Borlaug believed that genetic manipulation of organisms (GMO) was the only way to increase food production as the world runs out of unused arable land. GMOs were not inherently dangerous "because we've been genetically modifying plants and animals for a long time. Long before we called it science, people were selecting the best breeds."[37]

According to Borlaug, "Africa, the former Soviet republics, and the cerrado are the last frontiers. After they are in use, the world will have no additional sizable blocks of arable land left to put into production, unless you are willing to level whole forests, which you should not do. So, future food-production increases will have to come from higher yields. And though I have no doubt yields will keep going up, whether they can go up enough to feed the population monster is another matter. Unless progress with agricultural yields remains very strong, the next century will experience sheer human misery that, on a numerical scale, will exceed the worst of everything that has come before".[22]

Besides increasing the worldwide food supply, early in his career Borlaug stated that taking steps to decrease the rate of population growth will also be necessary to prevent food shortages. In his Nobel Lecture of 1970, Borlaug stated, "Most people still fail to comprehend the magnitude and menace of the 'Population Monster' ... If it continues to increase at the estimated present rate of two percent a year, the world population will reach 6.5 billion by the year 2000. Currently, with each second, or tick of the clock, about 2.2 additional people are added to the world population. The rhythm of increase will accelerate to 2.7, 3.3, and 4.0 for each tick of the clock by 1980, 1990, and 2000, respectively, unless man becomes more realistic and preoccupied about this impending doom. The tick-tock of the clock will continually grow louder and more menacing each decade. Where will it all end?"[23] However, by the 1990s Borlaug had changed his position on population control, believing it was not necessary. In 2000 he stated: "I now say that the world has the technology — either available or well advanced in the research pipeline — to feed on a sustainable basis a population of 10 billion people. The more pertinent question today is whether farmers and ranchers will be permitted to use this new technology? While the affluent nations can certainly afford to adopt ultra low-risk positions, and pay more for food produced by the so-called 'organic' methods, the one billion chronically undernourished people of the low income, food-deficit nations cannot."[38]

Death

Borlaug died at the age of 95, on September 12, 2009, in his Dallas home.[1] He died of lymphoma.[39] Borlaug's children released a statement saying,

We would like his life to be a model for making a difference in the lives of others and to bring about efforts to end human misery for all mankind.[40]

Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh and President of India Pratibha Patil paid tribute to Borlaug saying,

Borlaug's life and achievement are testimony to the far-reaching contribution that one man's towering intellect, persistence and scientific vision can make to human peace and progress.[41]

United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) described Borlaug as

... a towering scientist whose work rivals that of the 20th century's other great scientific benefactors of humankind.[42]

Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations said,

As we celebrate Dr. Borlaug's long and remarkable life, we also celebrate the long and productive lives that his achievements have made possible for so many millions of people around the world... we will continue to be inspired by his enduring devotion to the poor, needy and vulnerable of our world.[43]

Honors and recognition

In 1968, Borlaug received what he considered an especially satisfying tribute when the people of Ciudad Obregón, where some of his earliest experiments were undertaken, named a street after him. Also in that year, he became a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

In 1970, he was given an honorary doctorate by the Agricultural University of Norway.[44]

In 1970, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee "for his contributions to the "green revolution" that was having such an impact on food production particularly in Asia and in Latin America."[44]

In 1975, he was named a Distinguished Fellow of the Iowa Academy of Science.[45]

In 1980, he was elected honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

In 1984, his name was placed in the National Agricultural Hall of Fame at the national center in Bonner Springs, Kansas. Also that year, he was recognized for sustained service to humanity through outstanding contributions in plant breeding from the Governors Conference on Agriculture Innovations in Little Rock, Arkansas. Also in 1984, he received the Henry G. Bennet Distinguished Service Award at commencement ceremonies at Oklahoma State University. He recently received the Charles A. Black Award for his contributions to public policy and the public understanding of science.

In 1985, the University of Minnesota named a wing of the new science building in Borlaug's honor, calling it "Borlaug Hall."

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Borlaug received the 1977 U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the 2002 Public Welfare Medal from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the 2002 Rotary International Award for World Understanding and Peace, and the 2004 National Medal of Science. As of January 2004, Borlaug had received 49 honorary degrees from as many universities, in 18 countries, the most recent from Dartmouth College on June 12, 2005,[46] and was a foreign or honorary member of 22 international Academies of Sciences.[47] In Iowa and Minnesota, "World Food Day", October 16, is referred to as "Norman Borlaug World Food Prize Day". Throughout the United States, it is referred to as "World Food Prize Day".

The Government of India, where he is known as the Father of India's Green Revolution, conferred the Padma Vibhushan, its second highest civilian award on him in 2006 [48]. Dr. Borlaug also received the National Medal of Science, the United States' highest scientific honor, from U.S. President George W. Bush on February 13, 2006. He was awarded the Danforth Award for Plant Science by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St Louis, Missouri in recognition of his life-long commitment to increasing global agricultural production through plant science.

Several research institutions and buildings have been named in his honor, including: the Norman E. Borlaug Center for Farmer Training and Education, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, in 1983; Borlaug Hall, on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota in 1985; Borlaug Building at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) headquarters in 1986; the Norman Borlaug Institute for Plant Science Research at De Montfort University, Leicester, United Kingdom in 1997; and the Norman E. Borlaug Center for Southern Crop Improvement, at Texas A&M University in 1999. In 2006, the Texas A&M University System created the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture to be a premier institution for agricultural development and to continue the legacy of Dr. Borlaug.

The stained-glass "World Peace Window" at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis, Minnesota, depicts "peace makers" of the 20th century, including Norman Borlaug.[49] Borlaug was also prominently mentioned in an episode ("In this White House") of the The West Wing television show. The president of a fictional African country describes the kind of "miracle" needed to save his country from the ravages of AIDS by referencing an American scientist who was able to save the world from hunger through the development of a new type of wheat. The U.S. president replies by providing Borlaug's name.

Borlaug was also featured in an episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, where he was referred to as the "Greatest Human Being That Ever Lived". In that episode, Penn & Teller play a card game where each card depicts a great person in history. Each player picks a few cards at random, and bets on whether one thinks one's card shows a greater person than the other players' cards based on a characterization such as humanitarianism or scientific achievement. Penn gets Norman Borlaug, and proceeds to bet all his chips, his house, his rings, his watch, and essentially everything he's ever owned. He wins because, as he says, "Norman is the greatest human being, and you've probably never heard of him." In the episode — the topic of which was genetically altered food — he is credited with saving the lives of over a billion people.

President George W. Bush along with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi congratulate Borlaug during the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony on July 17, 2007

In August 2006, Dr. Leon Hesser published The Man Who Fed the World: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug and His Battle to End World Hunger, an account of Borlaug's life and work. On August 4, the book received the 2006 Print of Peace award, as part of International Read For Peace Week.

On September 27, 2006, the United States Senate by unanimous consent passed the Congressional Tribute to Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Act of 2006. The act authorizes that Borlaug be awarded America's highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal. On December 6, 2006, the House of Representatives passed the measure by voice vote. President George Bush signed the bill into law on December 14, 2006, and it became Public Law Number 109–395[50]. According to the act, "the number of lives Dr. Borlaug has saved [is] more than a billion people" The act authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to strike and sell duplicates of the medal in bronze. He was presented with the medal on July 17, 2007.[51]

Borlaug was a foreign fellow of the Bangladesh Academy of Sciences.[52]

Books and lectures

Borlaug with USDA Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman near the birthday cake prepared for his 90th birthday
This list is incomplete.
  • Wheat in the Third World. 1982. Authors: Haldore Hanson, Norman E. Borlaug, and R. Glenn Anderson. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. ISBN 0-86531-357-1
  • Land use, food, energy and recreation. 1983. Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. ISBN 0-940222-07-8
  • Feeding a human population that increasingly crowds a fragile planet. 1994. Mexico City. ISBN 968-6201-34-3
  • Norman Borlaug on World Hunger. 1997. Edited by Anwar Dil. San Diego/Islamabad/Lahore: Bookservice International. 499 pages. ISBN 0-9640492-3-6
  • The Green Revolution Revisited and the Road Ahead. 2000. Anniversary Nobel Lecture, Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway. September 8, 2000.
  • "Ending World Hunger. The Promise of Biotechnology and the Threat of Antiscience Zealotry". 2000. Plant Physiology, October 2000, Vol. 124, pp. 487–490. (duplicate)
  • Feeding a World of 10 Billion People: The Tva/Ifdc Legacy. 2003. ISBN 0-88090-144-6
  • Prospects for world agriculture in the twenty-first century. 2004. Norman E. Borlaug, Christopher R. Dowswell. Published in: Sustainable agriculture and the international rice-wheat system. ISBN 0-8247-5491-3
  • Foreword to The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution. 2004. Henry I. Miller, Gregory Conko. ISBN 0-275-97879-6
  • Norman E. Borlaug (2007) Sixty-two years of fighting hunger: personal recollections. Euphytica 157:287–297 ([53])

Further reading

  • Bickel, Lennard (1974). Facing starvation; Norman Borlaug and the fight against hunger. Pleasantville, N.Y.: Reader's Digest Press; distributed by Dutton, New York. ISBN 0-88349-015-3. 
  • Hesser, Leon (2006). The Man Who Fed the World: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug and His Battle to End World Hunger. Durban House. ISBN 1930754906. 

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug dies at 95". http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gb_fsKObiTI2Quwargw4snaBhKuAD9AM79R81. 
  2. ^ "The father of the 'Green Revolution'". Did You Know?. University of Minnesota. Retrieved 2006-09-24.
  3. ^ The others are Martin Luther King, Jr., Elie Wiesel, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and Aung San Suu Kyi.
  4. ^ Borlaug, father of ‘Green Revolution’, dead
  5. ^ The phrase "over a billion lives saved" is often cited by others in reference to Norman Borlaug's work (e.g., [1]). According to Jan Douglas here, Executive Assistant to the World Prize Foundation, the source of this number is Gregg Easterbrook's 1997 article "Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity", the article states that the "form of agriculture that Borlaug preaches may have prevented a billion deaths."
  6. ^ "Why can't we grow new energy?", Juan Enriquez, Recorded September 2007 in New York City.[2]
  7. ^ State Historical Society of Iowa. 2002. FY03 HRDP/REAP Grant Application Approval
  8. ^ Iowa Rep. Tom Latham Pays Tribute to Dr. Borlaug World Food Prize. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  9. ^ a b University of Minnesota. 2005. Borlaug and the University of Minnesota
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Green Giant". Stuertz, Mark. Dallas Observer. 5 December 2002.
  11. ^ "Norman Borlaug's wife dies at age 95 in Dallas". Houston Chronicle. 8 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
  12. ^ Wright, Angus 2005. The Death of Ramón González]
  13. ^ Davidson, M.G. 1997. An Abundant Harvest: Interview with Norman Borlaug, Recipient, Nobel Peace Prize, 1970, Common Ground, August 12
  14. ^ a b c d Brown, L. R. 1970. Nobel Peace Prize: developer of high-yield wheat receives award (Norman Ernest Borlaug). Science, 30 October 1970;170(957):518-9.
  15. ^ a b University of Minnesota. 2005. Borlaug's Work in Mexico
  16. ^ Borlaug, N.E. 1953. New approach to the breeding of wheat varieties resistant to Puccinia graminis tritici. Phytopathology, 43:467
  17. ^ "AGB 301: Principles and Methods of Plant Breeding". Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.
  18. ^ Retiz, L.P. 1970. New wheats and social progress. Science,169:952–955
  19. ^ Hedden, P. 2003. The genes of the Green Revolution. Trends in Genetics, 19:5–9 PMID 12493241
  20. ^ University of Minnesota. 2005. The Beginning of the Green Revolution
  21. ^ Erlich, Paul: The Population Bomb. 1968.
  22. ^ a b c d e Easterbrook, G. 1997. Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity. The Atlantic Monthly.
  23. ^ a b Borlaug, N. E. 1972. Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1970. From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1951–1970, Frederick W. Haberman Ed., Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam
  24. ^ Angelsen, A., and D. Kaimowitz. 2001. "The Role of Agricultural Technologies in Tropical Deforestation". Agricultural Technologies and Tropical Deforestation. CABI Publishing, New York
  25. ^ Borlaug, Norman; Garrett, Peter (December 18, 1999), "Between the Tynes / Chronicles of the Future - Program 6 Earth, wind & fire", The Weekend Australian 
  26. ^ Leonard, Andrew (July 16, 2007), "Show organic farmers the money", Salon.com, http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/2007/07/16/organic_farming/index.html 
  27. ^ Cockburn, Alexander (June 29, 2003), "Corporate Interests Keep World's Poor Hungry", Sunday Business Post, http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2003/06/29/story909701237.asp 
  28. ^ Billions served. Interview with Reason Magazine. April 2000
  29. ^ Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. 2002.Four Iowans Who Fed The World, Norman Borlaug: Geneticist at the Internet Archive
  30. ^ Tierney, John (2008). "Greens and Hunger". TierneyLab - Putting Ideas in Science to the Test. New York Times. http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/19/greens-and-hunger/?pagemode=print. Retrieved 2009-02-13. 
  31. ^ Press, Robert. "Borlaug: sowing "Green Revolution" among African leaders". Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/1994/0629/29091.html. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  32. ^FAO Statistics Database
  33. ^ The Carter Center, Norman Borlaug, Senior Consultant in Agriculture, http://www.cartercenter.org/health/agriculture/program_staff.html, retrieved 2008-07-17 
  34. ^ The Carter Center, The Carter Center Agriculture Program, http://www.cartercenter.org/health/agriculture/index.html, retrieved 2008-07-17 
  35. ^ The Carter Center (2007-05-02), Exhibit to Highlight Progress For Peace, Health, Human Rights, http://www.cartercenter.org/news/pr/anniversary_exhibit.html, retrieved 2008-07-17 
  36. ^ The Murugappa Group. 2005. Food for Thought
  37. ^ Norman Borlaug: genetic modification can feed the world, Chron.com, July 13, 2008
  38. ^ Conko, Greg. The Man Who Fed the World. Openmarket.org. September 13, 2009.
  39. ^ "Nobel Prize-winning scientist Norman Borlaug, father of the 'green revolution,' dies at age 95". http://www.startribune.com/local/59145892.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUUsZ. 
  40. ^ Associated Press in Dallas (2009-09-13). "Norman Borlaug, the Nobel winner who fed the world, dies aged 95". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/13/norman-borlaug-dies-aged-95. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  41. ^ "PM pays tribute to Father of Green Revolution Borlaug". Rediff. September 14, 2009. http://news.rediff.com/report/2009/sep/14/pm-pays-tribute-to-father-of-green-revolution-borlaug.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  42. ^ "UN food agency pays tribute to ‘father’ of Green Revolution". United Nations. 14 September 2009. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=32044&Cr=FAO&Cr1=. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  43. ^ "Tributes to Dr. Norman E. Borlaug from around the world". World Food Prize. 2009-09-14. http://www.worldfoodprize.org/press_room/2009/sept/borlaug-tributes.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  44. ^ a b "Nobel Peace Prize 1970 — Presentation Speech". http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1970/press.html. 
  45. ^ "List of Distinguished Fellows of the Iowa Academy of Science". http://www.iacad.org/da_fellow.html. 
  46. ^ "Biographical background on 2005 Dartmouth honorary degree recipientsNORMAN E. BORLAUG(Doctor of Science)". www.dartmouth.edu. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~news/releases/2005/04/28a.html. Retrieved 2009-08-24. 
  47. ^ Dr. Norman E. Borlaug's Curriculum Vitae
  48. ^ "Father of India's Green Revolution" given Padma Vibhushan Rediff.com, August 24, 2006.
  49. ^ Bjordal, J. Cathedral Peace Window honors Dr Norman Borlaug and Jimmy Carter Journal of the American Chestnut Foundation, vol. 18 no.2 Fall 2004, p.9. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  50. ^ http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ395.109 An Act To award a congressional gold medal to Dr. Norman E. Borlaug
  51. ^ http://www1.umn.edu/umnnews/Feature_Stories/Alumnus_Norman_Borlaug_receives_National_Medal_of_Science.html Alumnus Norman Borlaug receives National Medal of Science
  52. ^ List of Fellows of Bangladesh Academy of Sciences
  53. ^ Borlaug, Norman E. (June 27, 2007). "Sixty-two years of fighting hunger: personal recollections". Euphytica (Dx.doi.org) 157: 287. doi:10.1007/s10681-007-9480-9. http://www.springerlink.com/content/d023617827754266/?p=e59cf16174744a14ac6deba31ce6b7dd&pi=0. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 

External links

Videos and speeches

Organizations and programs

Interview

Obituaries and other


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Norman Ernest Borlaug (25 March 191412 September 2009) was an American agricultural scientist, and humanitarian. He is considered by some to be the "father of modern agriculture" and the father of the green revolution. He won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his life's work.

Sourced

  • "You can't build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery."
    • From "Eat This!", an episode of Penn and Teller's Bullshit!
  • "There can be no permanent progress in the battle against hunger until the agencies that fight for increased food production and those that fight for population control unite in a common effort."
    • 1970 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech
  • "It is a sad fact that on this earth at this late date there are still two worlds, "the privileged world" and "the forgotten world". The privileged world consists of the affluent, developed nations, comprising twenty-five to thirty percent of the world population, in which most of the people live in a luxury never before experienced by man outside the Garden of Eden. The forgotten world is made up primarily of the developing nations, where most of the people, comprising more than fifty percent of the total world population, live in poverty, with hunger as a constant companion and fear of famine a continual menace."
    • From his 1970 Nobel Lecture
  • "I now say that the world has the technology – either available or well advanced in the research pipeline – to feed on a sustainable basis a population of 10 billion people. The more pertinent question today is whether farmers and ranchers will be permitted to use this new technology? While the affluent nations can certainly afford to adopt ultra low-risk positions, and pay more for food produced by the so-called “organic” methods, the one billion chronically undernourished people of the low income, food-deficit nations cannot."
    • 30th Anniversary Lecture, The Norwegian Nobel Institute, Oslo, September 8, 2000
  • "Producing food for 6.2 billion people, adding a population of 80 million more a year, is not simple. We better develop an ever improved science and technology, including the new biotechnology, to produce the food that's needed for the world today." In response to the fraction of the world population that could be fed if current farmland was convered to organic-only crops: "We are 6.6 billion people now. We can only feed 4 billion. I don't see 2 billion volunteers to disappear." In response to extreme critics: "These are utopian people that live on Cloud 9 and come into the third world and cause all kinds of confusion and negative impacts on the developing countries."
    • Transcript of all comments from "Eat This!", an episode of Penn and Teller's Bullshit!
  • "Reach for the stars. Although you will never touch them, if you reach hard enough, you will find that you get a little star dust on you in the process."
    • Reported by Ed Runge, retired head of Texas A&M's department of soil and crop sciences, who persuaded Borlaug to teach at the school.

Quotes about Norman Borlaug

  • "At a time when doom-sayers were hopping around saying everyone was going to starve, Norman was working. He moved to Mexico and lived among the people there until he figured out how to improve the output of the farmers. So that saved a million lives. Then he packed up his family and moved to India, where in spite of a war with Pakistan, he managed to introduce new wheat strains that quadrupled their food output. So that saved another million. You get it? But he wasn't done. He did the same thing with a new rice in China. He's doing the same thing in Africa - as much of Africa as he's allowed to visit. When he won the Nobel Prize in 1970, they said he had saved a billion people. That's BILLION! BUH! That's Carl Sagan BILLION with a "B"! And most of them were a different race from him. Norman is the greatest human being- and you've probably never heard of him."
  • "Though barely known in the country of his birth, elsewhere in the world Norman Borlaug is widely considered to be among the leading Americans of our age ... Norman Borlaug has already saved more lives than any other person who ever lived ... Borlaug is responsible for the fact that throughout the postwar era, except in sub-Saharan Africa, global food production has expanded faster than the human population, averting the mass starvations that were widely predicted -- for example, in the 1967 best seller Famine -- 1975! The form of agriculture that Borlaug preaches may have prevented a billion deaths."
  • "Norman Borlaug is the living embodiment of the human quest for a hunger free world. His life is his message."
  • "Borlaug's work saved the Indian sub-continent from mass starvation. In his 90 years on this planet its human population has grown from about one billion to more than six billion. Without the hybrid wheats it was Borlaug's life's mission to develop and promote among the world's poorest farmers, few believe that this population could have been sustained."
  • "It is very likely that Dr. Borlaug is directly responsible for saving more lives than anyone else in the twentieth century... Dr. Borlaug has never stopped fighting, teaching, inventing, or caring... The world owes Dr. Borlaug endless amounts of gratitude"
    • Senator 'Kit' Bond|, Missouri, in a congressional record in honour of Borlaug's 90th birthday.
  • "Dr. Norman Borlaug was the father of the Green Revolution that transformed much of the hungry Third World. As U.S. Food for Peace Administrator in the 1960s, I shipped 4 million tons of food aid per year to India; now it can export food. Dr. Borlaug’s scientific leadership not only saved people from starvation, but the high-yield seeds he bred saved millions of square miles of wildlife from being plowed down. He is one of the great men of our age."
  • "For fifty-two years, Dr. Norman Borlaug has been helping to provide more food to the most needy areas of the world. But perhaps of greater importance, this distinguished scientist-philosopher has been demonstrating practical ways to give people of the entire world a higher quality of life ... The passion that drives Dr. Borlaug's life is an inspiration for all of us to follow. Since 1986, we've worked together through Global 2000 of The Carter Center and the Sasakawa Africa Association to help small-scale farmers to improve agricultural productivity and crop quality, sometimes two or even threefold. It has been an honor to collaborate with Dr. Borlaug. He is a true humanitarian and a dear friend."
    • Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States and 2002 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
  • "It gives me great pleasure to add my voice to all those paying tribute to Dr. Norman E. Borlaug on his 90th birthday. As we celebrate Dr. Borlaug's long and remarkable life, we also celebrate the long and productive lives that his achievements have made possible for so many millions of people around the world. And as the United Nations continues its efforts to reach the ambitious but achievable Millennium Development Goal of reducing, by half, by the year 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, we will continue to be inspired by his enduring devotion to the poor, needy and vulnerable of our world. Dr. Borlaug, for your many contributions to the work of the United Nations, please accept my best wishes on this happy occasion."
    • Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations
  • "Dr. Norman Borlaug holds the record for longevity as a "persistent pioneer" in the development of a new cooperative approach among the countries of the world in the alleviation of hunger."
    • Dr. Edwin J. Wellhausen, First Director General of CIMMYT, Mexico, 1996
  • "Dr. Norman Borlaug is the first person in history to save a billion human lives. But he must also get credit for saving the wild creatures and diverse plant species on 12 million square miles of global forest that would long since have been plowed down without the high-yield farming he pioneered. The two accomplishments combined make him dramatically unique. I am proud to work with the Center for Global Food Issues, of which he is Chairman Emeritus."
    • Senator Rudy Boschwitz, R-MN, former member of the US Senate Agriculture Committee
  • "'The battle to feed all of humanity is over," biologist Paul Ehrlich famously wrote in his 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb ... But Borlaug and his team were already engaged in the kind of crash program that Ehrlich declared wouldn't work. Their dwarf wheat varieties resisted a wide spectrum of plant pests and diseases and produced two to three times more grain than the traditional varieties ... Borlaug, who unfortunately is far less well-known than doomsayer Ehrlich, is responsible for much of the progress humanity has made against hunger."
    • Ronald Bailey, Reason Magazine
  • "Thanks to the Green Revolution, the real price of food is half or less than it was in 1960 which means those who spend the highest portion of their income on food - the urban and non-farm rural poor -- garner the most benefit from it."
    • Thomas R. DeGregori, University of Houston
  • "As a result of [Borlaug's] work, a billion people now exist who otherwise would have starved to death, died of starvation-related diseases, or never have been born."
    • Gregory Pence and Joyce Hsu, Birmingham News
  • "Borlaug is one of the great humanitarians of the 20th Century - and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for a lifetime of work feeding a hungry world. The breeds of wheat he developed - with strong disease resistance, high yield potential and the ability to withstand poor growing conditions - led the "Green Revolution" that saved literally hundreds of millions of lives in developing nations that were prone to terrible famines."
    • James Glassman, Tech Central Station
  • "He is credited with starting the Green Revolution in the mid-1960s and saving millions of lives from starvation. Since 1984, he has been a professor of international agriculture at Texas A&M, where he teaches one semester every year. But he is by no means semi-retired. At 86, he remains as active as ever - carrying his brand of prairie pragmatism to fight hunger around the world and in the classroom. Think big. Fight complacency. That is the essence of his message, whether he's talking to heads of state or college freshmen."
    • David Tarrant, Dallas Morning News
  • "Scientist. Teacher. Humanitarian. Nobel Laureate. Father of the Green Revolution. Those terms describe Dr. Norman Borlaug, who is distinguished professor of international agriculture at Texas A&M University, but they can't possibly capture the magnitude of his accomplishments."
    • Ellen Ritter, Texas A&M University
  • "If there's one thread running through Borlaug's life it's doing -- acting with fierce determination. Working on a problem as fundamental as world hunger is a complicated business, and Borlaug is a complicated man, somehow balancing contradictions ... He is the scientist and the dirt farmer; the advocate of common sense and the master of political subtleties; the humanitarian and the pugnacious fighter; the idealist and the consultant to governments of every political ideology. He has been called a peaceful revolutionary, and the tension in that term - between benevolence and aggressiveness - seems particularly apt."
    • From the University of Minnesota College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Norman Borlaug
File:Norman
Born March 25, 1914
Died September 12, 2009 (95 years)

Norman Borlaug (born March 25, 1914 - died September 12, 2009)[1] was an American scientist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. His area of work has been making a larger food supply for the world. He did this by making smaller wheat plants that also were less likely to get diseases.

References








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