Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tribute to Dr. Norman Borlaug

I had hoped to report on harvesting this week, but weather is preventing that until next week.

Instead I am overdue to write about something much greater than any single harvest, the death of what I think is in my opinion the greatest "farmer", most likely the greatest man ever to live-Dr. Norman Borlaug. Dr. Borlaug is oftern referred to as the father of the green revolution.

At his Nobel Prize Award presentation it was declard that over a Billion (BILLION with a B) people have been saved from starvation due to his lifes work. To put that in perspective he has saved NINETY TIMES more lives than the 11 million Hitler had put to death during WWII.

It is really sad to me how few people know someone who saved 90 times more lives than Hitler took. I doubt that 1 in 50 kids under 20 have ever heard his name. He had the misfortune of passing a month after Michael Jackson and it was still wall to wall coverage of the singer's death.

The awards given to him are amazing.
1) Nobel Peace Price
2) Presidental Medal of Freedom
3) Congressional Gold Medal
4) Several other equivalent honors from Pakistan, India, etc.

A combination of awards only won before by 4 others including Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandella, and Mother Theresa.

If you have a few minutes here are some videos on YouTube very worth watching:

Iowa News Story of his Death: (3 minutes)

Short 7 minute biography. Fantastic!

Dr. Borlaug talks about hunger

10 minute Humorous Piece/Tribute to Dr. Borlaug from Penn & Teller (language not for kids)

You can read more about his life at Wikipedia at:

During the 50's Dr. Borlaug led the introduction of high yeilding varietes of wheat combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. As a result of his work Mexico, which had many starving people due to food shortages. He recognized that the climate in Mexico could support two growing seasons and intruced short season hybrids that allowed them to produce two crops a year instead of just one. Mexico actually became a net exporter of wheat by 1963. In the 60's his work nearly doubled production in Pakistan and India. He did similar work with wheat in China and later with corn and wheat throughout Africa.

Dr. Borlaug dedicated his life from his early 20's to his death at 95 to increasing food quality and quantity for the world. At age 72, after many people would have retired he founded "The World Food Prize" to inspire food production. It is a Nobel like $250,000 award presented to the person who does the most to increase food production for the year.

Maybe someday his contributions will be known, I hope someday another like him will come along, but I doubt it.

"You can’t build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery"-Norman Borlaug.


  1. Norman was a really good guy, Paul. He never talked down to a person like me, he just found out what you have learned.

    I wanted to find out why he learned so much.

  2. Paul

    An excellent tribute to Dr. Borlaug. His mind apparently was sharp to the very end, given his op-ed piece in the July 30 Wall Street Journal "Farmers Can Feed the World."

    You do great work. Keep it up.