The world lost a hero a few days ago, a true warrior who never wielded a sword or leveled a rifle at any enemy. His name was Norman E. Borlaug, an American farm boy from Iowa who revolutionized agriculture by producing high-yield crops. His disease-resistant hardy grains have saved untold hundreds of millions of lives worldwide. On a planet that loses the battle to starvation every single day to the tune of one person every 2.4 seconds, 36,000 per day for a whopping 13.14 million deaths every year, Norman Borlaug’s work has prevented this obscene statistic from growing astronomically higher. He was called The Father of The Green Revolution, a life saver who’s work has fed billions.
As a young boy in Iowa he wondered why plants grow better in some places than others, why the grass is greener there than here. He worked his way through college during the Great Depression, earning his doctorate from the University of MInnesota in plant pathology and genetics, then went to work for Dupont. At the start of World War 2, he attempted to enlist in the army but was turned down because the country felt his work at Dupont would be more valuable to the war effort. They were right too, when his team came up with salt water-resistant glue that sealed food containers for soldiers being supplied by airdrops in the Pacific off Guadalcanal when the Japanese navy was blockading the island.
Towards the end of the war, Dr, Borlaug went to work for the Rockefeller foundation in Mexico with the mission to improve their wheat crop. He cross-bred shorter, sturdier stalks that produced heavier, higher yielding grain heads and thus quadrupled the output of the land. Mexican farmers adopted his methods as well as his nitrogen rich fertilizer and the results were astounding, with Mexico becoming a wheat-exporting nation. Borlaug worked all over South America, training others in his methods, eventually spreading his work to the rice crops of South Asia and to Africa as well. While he could have undoubtedly remained at Dupont earning a fabulous salary (they offered to double his salary before he left for Mexico), this man felt called upon to share his gifts with the world and did so for many decades.
For his tireless work on behalf of the hungry of this world, Dr. Bourlag has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, The World Food Prize as well as the highest civilian accolades from the many foreign nations whose people benefitted from his work. He still retained ties to Dupont, and taught at The University of Texas, where he trained students and scientists to carry on his work. Dupont helped him found Norman Borlaug University, an internet-based learning company for agriculture and food students and professionals. He knew better than anyone that his life’s work is unfinished, that there is still hunger and starvation in this world. Doctor Norman Borlaug was a giant and a warrior for the poorest among us, a man who did all that he could to help his fellow man. The curious farm boy from Iowa did his family and his nation proud, as well as the human race.