Monday, September 14, 2009

The Passing of Norman Borlaug

The Father Of the Green Revolution
By Joe Holley and J.Y. Smith
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, September 14, 2009

Norman E. Borlaug, 95, an American plant pathologist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for starting the "Green Revolution" that dramatically increased food production in developing nations and saved countless people from starvation, died Saturday at his home in Dallas.

"More than any other single person of this age, he has helped provide bread for a hungry world," the Nobel committee said in honoring him. "Dr. Borlaug has introduced a dynamic factor into our assessment of the future and its potential."

Edwin Price, director of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University, said his mentor died of cancer. Since 1984, Dr. Borlaug had been a distinguished professor of international agriculture there.

From the 1970s until his death, he increasingly took the politically incorrect view that environmentalists were hampering world food production by indiscriminately attacking the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

"They claim that the consumer is being poisoned out of existence by the current high-yielding systems of agricultural production and recommend we revert back to lower-yielding, so-called sustainable technologies," he said in a speech in New Orleans in 1993.

Unfortunately, he said, it is not possible to turn the clock back to the 1930s, when the population of the world was 2.2 billion. It was estimated at 5.6 billion in 1995 and was projected to rise to 8.3 billion by 2025. Read More

One of the great heroes in the history of agriculture, Norman Borlaug passed away this weekend at the age of 95. During his career, Borlaug always believed in using modern technology to end hunger. He believed in the proper use of fertilizers and chemicals as well. Those beliefs and his determination and hard work led to saving millions, if not billions, of people from starvation. He moved us away from the type of agriculture that many people like Michael Pollan and others want us to go back to. With a growing world population we have to continue moving forward with our ability to grow food, not backwards.

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