RIP – NORMAN BORLAUG


EXPIRED: 09/12/09 – Norman Borlaug, 95, started the “Green Revolution”, increasing food production in developing nations and saving millions from starvation. Accepting the Nobel Prize, he said that an adequate supply of food is “the first component of social justice, otherwise there will be no peace.”

Norman Borlaug got his start on an Iowa farm in a portion of the state called “Little Norway” because so many of its residents were immigrants from that country. His education began in a one-room schoolhouse. He left home during the Great Depression to study forestry at the University of Minnesota. While there he earned himself a place in the university’s wrestling hall of fame and met his future wife, whom he married in 1937. Margaret Borlaug died in 2007 at the age of 95.

After a brief stint with the U.S. Forest Service, Borlaug returned to University for a doctoral degree in plant pathology. He then worked as a microbiologist for DuPont, but soon left for a job with the Rockefeller Foundation. Between 1944 and 1960, Borlaug dedicated himself to increasing Mexico’s wheat production. In Mexico, he developed disease-resistant varieties of wheat that produced much more grain than traditional strains.

He and others later took those varieties and similarly improved strains of rice and corn to Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa. In Pakistan and India, two of the nations that benefited most from the new crop varieties, grain yields more than quadrupled.

Borlaug’s wheat helped feed the world, fostering a movement that is credited with saving up to 1 billion people from starvation.

Godspeed, Norman.

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