The Man Who Saved a Billion People
|September 16, 2009||Posted by Clive Hayden under Education, Science, Culture|
Norman Borlaug, an American hero, died this past Saturday at the age of 95. The Wall Street Journal has an article giving some light on his illustrious and incredible life:
Born in 1914 in rural Cresco, Iowa, where he was educated in a one-room schoolhouse, Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work ending the India-Pakistan food shortage of the mid-1960s. He spent most of his life in impoverished nations, patiently teaching poor farmers in India, Mexico, South America, Africa and elsewhere the Green Revolution agricultural techniques that have prevented the global famines widely predicted when the world population began to skyrocket following World War II.
In 1999, the Atlantic Monthly estimated that Borlaug’s efforts combined with those of the many developing-world agriculture-extension agents he trained and the crop-research facilities he founded in poor nations saved the lives of one billion human beings.
Borlaug was the father of the Green Revolution, which was an effort to increase efficiency in agricultural output:
As a young agronomist, Borlaug helped develop some of the principles of Green Revolution agriculture on which the world now relies including hybrid crops selectively bred for vigor, and “shuttle breeding,” a technique for accelerating the movement of disease immunity between strains of crops. He also helped develop cereals that were insensitive to the number of hours of light in a day, and could therefore be grown in many climates.
Green Revolution techniques caused both reliable harvests, and spectacular output. From the Civil War through the Dust Bowl, the typical American farm produced about 24 bushels of corn per acre; by 2006, the figure was about 155 bushels per acre.
The Chicago Tribune also has a piece on Borlaug, stating:
This brilliant, altruistic and luminous humanitarian bred and cultivated enough wheat, rice and other grains to feed nearly a billion hungry people. He did so in an environmentally conscious manner as a means to protect myriad wildlife species and nature habitats from being decimated.
Norman Borlaug is a forgotten icon who should be forever recognized as an international hero who saved millions of human lives.
After saving millions and millions of lives, Borlaug retired and taught agronomy at Texas A&M, always encouraging his students to live in the developing world and help those who are less fortunate. He is an American hero who should be remembered and revered.