World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Norman Borlaug

Article Id: WHEBN0000275564
Reproduction Date:

Title: Norman Borlaug  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Green Revolution, History of agriculture, Today's featured article/July 2005, World Food Prize, Nobel Peace Prize
Collection: 1914 Births, 2009 Deaths, Agrarian Theorists, American Agronomists, American Biologists, American Council on Science and Health, American Humanitarians, American Lutherans, American Nobel Laureates, American People of Norwegian Descent, Cancer Deaths in Texas, Civilian Conservation Corps People, Congressional Gold Medal Recipients, Deaths from Lymphoma, Development Specialists, Fellows of Bangladesh Academy of Sciences, Fellows of Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Foreign Fellows of the Indian National Science Academy, Foreign Members of the Royal Society, Green Thinkers, Members of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Members of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Members of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences, Mexican Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences Laureates, National Medal of Science Laureates, Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, People from Cresco, Iowa, People from Dallas, Texas, People from Minnesota, Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients, Recipients of the Great Cross of the National Order of Scientific Merit (Brazil), Recipients of the Padma Vibhushan, Rockefeller Foundation, Twas, University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Alumni, Vannevar Bush Award Recipients
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Norman Borlaug

Norman Borlaug
Borlaug speaking at the Ministerial Methodist Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology, June 2003
Born Norman Ernest Borlaug
(1914-03-25)March 25, 1914
Cresco, Iowa
Died September 12, 2009(2009-09-12) (aged 95)
Dallas, Texas
Citizenship United States
Nationality American
Fields Agronomy (Plant Pathology and Genetics)
Alma mater University of Minnesota (B.Sc., 1937) (Ph.D, 1942)
Thesis Variation and Variability in Fusarium Lini (1942)
Known for
Notable awards

Norman Ernest Borlaug (March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009)[2] was an American biologist, humanitarian and Nobel laureate who has been called "the father of the Green Revolution",[3] "agriculture's greatest spokesperson"[4] and "The Man Who Saved A Billion Lives".[5][6] He is one of seven people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal[7] and was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honor.[8]

Borlaug received his B.Sc. Biology in 1937 and 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.[9] 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.[10] 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 applying these methods of increasing food production in Asia and Africa.[11]


  • Early life, education and family 1
  • Career 2
  • Wheat research in Mexico 3
    • Double wheat season 3.1
    • Increasing disease resistance through multiline varieties 3.2
    • Dwarfing 3.3
  • Expansion to South Asia: the Green Revolution 4
    • Nobel Peace 4.1
    • Borlaug hypothesis 4.2
    • Criticisms and his view of critics 4.3
  • Later roles 5
    • Production in Africa 5.1
    • World Food Prize 5.2
    • Online education 5.3
    • Future of global farming and food supply 5.4
  • Death 6
  • Honors and recognition 7
  • Books and lectures 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12

Early life, education and family

Borlaug was the great-grandchild of Norwegian immigrants to the United States. Ole Olson Dybevig and Solveig Thomasdatter Rinde, from Feios, a small village in Vik kommune, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway, emigrated to Dane County, Wisconsin in 1854. The family eventually moved to the small Norwegian-American community of Saude, near Cresco, Iowa. There they were members of 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 ha) family farm west of Protivin, Iowa, fishing, hunting, and raising corn, oats, timothy-grass, cattle, pigs and chickens. He attended the one-teacher, one-room New Oregon #8 rural school in Howard County, through eighth grade. Today, the school building, built in 1865, is owned by the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation as part of "Project Borlaug Legacy".[12] 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%".[13]

He attributed his decision to leave the farm and pursue further education to his grandfather, Nels Olson Borlaug (1859–1935), 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."[14] Through a Depression-era program known as the National Youth Administration, he was able to enroll at the University of Minnesota in 1933. 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".[15]

To finance his studies, Borlaug had to put his education on hold periodically to 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".[16] From 1935 to 1938, before and after receiving his Bachelor of Science in forestry in 1937, Borlaug worked for the United States Forest 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.[16]

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. 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 because of budget cuts, he asked Stakman if he should go into forest pathology. Stakman advised him to focus on plant pathology instead.[15] Borlaug subsequently enrolled at the University to study plant pathology under Stakman, receiving a Master of Science degree in 1940 and Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics in 1942.

Borlaug was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. While in college, he met his future wife, Margaret Gibson, 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 from 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.[17] 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.[16]


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 salt water 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 for U.S. forces to supply the troops stranded on the island was to approach at night by speedboat, and jettison 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.[16]

In 1940, the plant pathology.

Stakman chose Dr. Jacob 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.[19] 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.[16]

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). Funding for this autonomous international research training institute developed from the Cooperative Wheat Research Production Program was undertaken jointly by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and the Mexican government.

Borlaug retired officially from the position in 1979, but remained a CIMMYT senior sorghum.

In 1984, Borlaug began teaching and conducting research at Texas A&M University. Eventually being given the title Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture at the university and the holder of the Eugene Butler Endowed Chair in Agricultural Biotechnology, Borlaug remained at A&M until his death in September 2009.

Wheat research in Mexico

The Cooperative Wheat Research Production Program, a joint venture by the John Niederhauser; and Norman Borlaug, all from the United States.[20] During the sixteen years Borlaug remained with the project, 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 few 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.[16] 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.[21]

Double wheat season

Initially, Borlaug's 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. 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.

Borlaug's 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 to store energy for germination before being planted, seeds needed a rest period after harvesting. When Harrar vetoed his plan, Borlaug resigned. 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".[22]

Locations of Borlaug's research stations in the 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".[21] This meant that the project would not need to start separate breeding programs for each geographic region of the planet.

Increasing disease resistance through multiline varieties

Because pure line (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 pure line's resistance, multiline varieties were developed. Multiline varieties are mixtures of several phenotypically similar pure lines 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.

In 1953, Borlaug extended this technique by suggesting that several pure lines with different resistance genes should be developed through backcross methods using one recurrent parent.[23] 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.[24]


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.[25] 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.[26]

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.[27] 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. Baseline is 500 kg/ha.

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. The letter was forwarded to the Indian Ministry of Agriculture headed by Shri C. Subramaniam, 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. 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 minor famine and starvation, limited partially by the U.S. shipping a fifth of its wheat production, to India in 1966 & 1967.[20] 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. In 1965, as a response to food shortages, Borlaug imported 550 tons of seeds for the government.[16]

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."[28]

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 it could not be shipped from the port at Guaymas in time for proper planting. 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 telegram 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 ..."[16]

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. 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.[29]

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.[20] 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.[16]

Wheat yields in developing countries, 1950 to 2004. Baseline is 500 kg/ha.

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. 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. India's use of high-yield farming has prevented an estimated 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.[30] 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.

Borlaug's work with wheat contributed to the development of high-yield semi-dwarf indica and japonica rice cultivars at the International Rice Research Institute and 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.[20]

Nobel Peace

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".[16] 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".[31] His speech repeatedly presented improvements in food production within a sober understanding of the context of population. "The green revolution has won a temporary success in man's war against hunger and deprivation; it has given man a breathing space. If fully implemented, the revolution can provide sufficient food for sustenance during the next three decades. But the frightening power of human reproduction must also be curbed; otherwise the success of the green revolution will be ephemeral only. Most people still fail to comprehend the magnitude and menace of the "Population Monster"...Since man is potentially a rational being, however, I am confident that within the next two decades he will recognize the self-destructive course he steers along the road of irresponsible population growth..."[32]

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 deforestation only occurs to increase land 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, 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.[33]

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 and some nutritionalists. 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.[34] Borlaug's work has been criticized for bringing large-scale monoculture, input-intensive farming techniques to countries that had previously relied on subsistence farming.[35] These farming techniques often reap large profits for U.S. agribusiness and agrochemical corporations 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.[36]

Other concerns of his critics and critics of

External links

  • Bickel, Lennard (1974). Facing starvation; Norman Borlaug and the fight against hunger. Pleasantville, N.Y.: Reader's Digest Press; distributed by Dutton, New York.  
  • Hesser, Leon (2006). The Man Who Fed the World: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug and His Battle to End World Hunger. Durban House.  
  • Cullather, Nick (2010). The Hungry World: America's Cold War Battle against Poverty in Asia. Harvard University Press.  
  • Rajaram, S. (2011). "Norman Borlaug: The Man I Worked with and Knew". Annual Review of Phytopathology 49: 17–30.  

Further reading

  1. ^  
  2. ^ a b "Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug dies at 95". Associated Press. 13 September 2009. Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Scott Kilman and Roger Thurow. "Father of 'Green Revolution' Dies". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Dowswell, C. (15 October 2009). "Norman Ernest Borlaug (1914-2009)". Science 326 (5951): 381.  
  5. ^ "Norman Borlaug". Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  6. ^ MacAray, David (15 October 2013). "The Man Who Saved a Billion Lives". Huffington Post. 
  7. ^ The others are Martin Luther King, Jr., Elie Wiesel, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Muhammad Yunus.
  8. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954-2007)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 30 May 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Borlaug, father of ‘Green Revolution’, dead", 14 September 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  10. ^ The phrase "over a billion lives saved" is often cited by others in reference to Norman Borlaug's work (e.g., [3]). According to Jan Douglas, Executive Assistant to the President of The World Food Prize Foundation, the source of this number is
  11. ^ Enriquez, Juan (September 2007). "Why Can't We Grow New Energy?". TED. Retrieved 18 September 2012. 
  12. ^ State Historical Society of Iowa. 2002. FY03 HRDP/REAP Grant Application Approval
  13. ^ "Father of the Green Revolution — He Helped Feed the World!". 
  14. ^ "Iowa Rep. Tom Latham Pays Tribute to Dr. Borlaug". The World Food Prize. 20 March 2008. Archived from the original on 3 July 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2012. 
  15. ^ a b University of Minnesota. 2005. Borlaug and the University of Minnesota at the Wayback Machine (archived March 10, 2005)
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Green Giant". Stuertz, Mark. Dallas Observer. 5 December 2002.
  17. ^ "Norman Borlaug's Wife Dies at 95". Associated Press. 8 March 2007. Archived from the original on 18 September 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012. An assistant to the family says she fell recently and never recovered. 
  18. ^ Wright, Angus 2005. The Death of Ramón González.
  19. ^ Davidson, M.G. 1997. An Abundant Harvest: Interview with Norman Borlaug, Recipient, Nobel Peace Prize, 1970, Common Ground, August 12
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ a b University of Minnesota. 2005. Borlaug's Work in Mexico at the Wayback Machine (archived December 26, 2004)
  22. ^ Miller, Henry I. (January 2012). "Norman Borlaug: The Genius Behind The Green Revolution". Forbes. 
  23. ^ Borlaug, N.E. (1953). "New approach to the breeding of wheat varieties resistant to Puccinia graminis tritici". Phytopathology 43: 467. 
  24. ^ "AGB 301: Principles and Methods of Plant Breeding". Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.
  25. ^ Retiz, L.P. (1970). "New wheats and social progress".  
  26. ^ Hedden, P (2003). "The genes of the Green Revolution". Trends in Genetics 19 (1): 5–9.  
  27. ^ University of Minnesota. 2005. The Beginning of the Green Revolution at the Wayback Machine (archived December 27, 2004)
  28. ^ Erlich, Paul: The Population Bomb. 1968.
  29. ^ Norman Borlaug Interview, Academy of Achievement, May 12, 2008
  30. ^ a b c d e Easterbrook, G. 1997. Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity. The Atlantic Monthly.
  31. ^ 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
  32. ^ "Nobel Lecture — The Nobel Peace Prize 1970 Norman Borlaug". 
  33. ^ Angelsen, A., and D. Kaimowitz. 2001. "The Role of Agricultural Technologies in Tropical Deforestation". Agricultural Technologies and Tropical Deforestation at the Wayback Machine (archived September 29, 2005). CABI Publishing, New York
  34. ^ Borlaug, Norman;  
  35. ^ Leonard, Andrew (July 16, 2007). "Show organic farmers the money". 
  36. ^ Cockburn, Alexander (June 29, 2003). "Corporate Interests Keep World's Poor Hungry".  
  37. ^ Billions served. Interview with Reason Magazine. April 2000
  38. ^ Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. 2002. Four Iowans Who Fed The World, Norman Borlaug: Geneticist at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ Tierney, John (May 19, 2008). "Greens and Hunger". TierneyLab — Putting Ideas in Science to the Test (New York Times). Retrieved 2009-02-13. 
  40. ^ Press, Robert. "Borlaug: sowing 'Green Revolution' among African leaders". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  41. ^ FAO Statistics Database
  42. ^ The Carter Center. "Norman Borlaug, Senior Consultant in Agriculture". Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  43. ^ The Carter Center. "The Carter Center Agriculture Program". Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  44. ^ The Carter Center (2007-05-02). "Exhibit to Highlight Progress For Peace, Health, Human Rights". Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  45. ^ The Murugappa Group. 2005. Food for Thought
  46. ^ Norman Borlaug: genetic modification can feed the world,, July 13, 2008
  47. ^ Borlaug, N.E. (2000), "Ending world hunger: the promise of biotechnology and the threat of antiscience zealotry", Plant Physiology 124 (2): 487–490,  
  48. ^ Rozwadowski, Kevin; Kagale, Sateesh (nd), Global Food Security: The Role of Agricultural Biotechnology Commentary (PDF), Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Saskatoon Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, retrieved 12 January 2014 
  49. ^ Conko, Greg. The Man Who Fed the World. September 13, 2009.
  50. ^ [4], Population Media Center 2008 Annual Report.
  51. ^ "Nobel Prize-winning scientist Norman Borlaug, father of the 'green revolution,' dies at age 95". 
  52. ^ Associated Press in  
  53. ^ "PM pays tribute to Father of Green Revolution Borlaug". Rediff. September 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  54. ^ "UN food agency pays tribute to 'father' of Green Revolution". United Nations. 14 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  55. ^ "Tributes to Dr. Norman E. Borlaug from around the world".  
  56. ^ a b "Nobel Peace Prize 1970 — Presentation Speech". 
  57. ^ "List of Distinguished Fellows of the Iowa Academy of Science". 
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^ "Public Welfare Award". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  61. ^ "Biographical background on 2005 Dartmouth honorary degree recipients NORMAN E. BORLAUG (Doctor of Science)". Retrieved 2009-08-24. 
  62. ^ Dr. Norman E. Borlaug's Curriculum Vitae
  63. ^ "Father of India's Green Revolution" given Padma Vibhushan, August 24, 2006.
  64. ^ 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.
  65. ^ "Eat This!".  
  66. ^ An Act To award a congressional gold medal to Dr. Norman E. Borlaug
  67. ^ "The Dr. Norman Borlaug Bronze Medal". The United States Mint. Retrieved 2011-02-16. 
  68. ^ Alumnus Norman Borlaug receives National Medal of Science
  69. ^ List of Fellows of Bangladesh Academy of Sciences


See also

  • 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. International Fertilizer Development Center, 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
  • Borlaug, Norman E. (June 27, 2007). "Sixty-two years of fighting hunger: personal recollections". Euphytica ( 157 (3): 287–297.  


  • 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
This list is incomplete.
Borlaug with USDA Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman near the birthday cake prepared for his 90th birthday.

Books and lectures

Borlaug was a foreign fellow of the Bangladesh Academy of Sciences.[69]

[68] He was presented with the medal on July 17, 2007.[67] to strike and sell duplicates of the medal in bronze.Secretary of the Treasury According to the act, "the number of lives Dr. Borlaug has saved [is] more than a billion people" The act authorizes the [66] On September 27, 2006, the

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.

Steny Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi congratulate Borlaug during the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony on July 17, 2007.

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.[65]

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.[64] Borlaug was also prominently mentioned in an episode ("In This White House") of the TV show The West Wing. 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.

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 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.[63] He was awarded the Danforth Award for Plant Science by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St Louis, Missouri in recognition of his lifelong commitment to increasing global agricultural production through plant science.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Borlaug received the 1977 U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the 2002 Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences,[60] 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,[61] and was a foreign or honorary member of 22 international Academies of Sciences.[62] 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".

On 25 March 2014, a statue of Borlaug at the United States Capitol was unveiled in a ceremony on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

On 19 August 2013, his statue was unveiled inside the ICAR's NASC Complex at New Delhi, India[59]

In 2012, a new elementary school in the Iowa City, IA school district opened, called "Norman Borlaug Elementary".

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

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

In 1980, he received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[58]

In 1975, he was named a Distinguished Fellow of the Iowa Academy of Science.[57]

In 1974, he was awarded a Peace Medal (in the form of a dove, carrying a wheat ear in its beak) by Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, India.

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."[56]

In 1970, he was given an honorary doctorate by the Agricultural University of Norway.[56]

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.

Honors and recognition

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.[55]

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

... a towering scientist whose work rivals that of the 20th century's other great scientific benefactors of humankind.[54]

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

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.[53]

Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh and President of India Pratibha Patil paid tribute to Borlaug 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.[52]

Borlaug died of lymphoma at the age of 95, on September 12, 2009, in his Dallas home.[2][51] Borlaug's children released a statement saying,


[50] Besides increasing the worldwide food supply, early in his career Borlaug stated that taking steps to decrease the rate of

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".[30]

GM crops are as natural and safe as today’s bread wheat, opined Dr. Borlaug, who also reminded agricultural scientists of their moral obligation to stand up to the antiscience crowd and warn policy makers that global food insecurity will not disappear without this new technology and ignoring this reality global food insecurity would make future solutions all the more difficult to achieve.
— Rozwadowski and Kagale

Borlaug believed that 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."[46] In a review of Borlaug's 2000 publication entitled Ending world hunger: the promise of biotechnology and the threat of antiscience zealotry,[47] the authors argued that Borlang's warnings were still true in 2010,[48]

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 was 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".[45]

Future of global farming and food supply

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 agriculture and food industry personnel. The University was unable to expand the necessary content or customer base, and since late 2001 has been defunct.

Online education

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.

World Food Prize

From 1986 to 2009, Borlaug was the President of the SAA. That year, a joint venture between 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.[30]

. Uganda, and Tanzania, Nigeria, Mozambique, Malawi, Mali, Guinea, Ghana, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Benin also increased in these countries. At present, program activities are under way in cowpeas, and cassava Yields of wheat, [41] The SAA is a research and

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

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,[40] and subsequently founded the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) to coordinate the project.

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 [30]

Production in Africa

Following his retirement, Borlaug continued to participate 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. From 1994 to 2003, Borlaug served on the International Fertilizer Development Center board of directors. 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.[16]

Later roles

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".[38] 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".[39]


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.