Thank You Norman Borlaug

Norman Borlaug - the man who saved a billion people.

I bet if I told you about a man named Norman Borlaug you probably wouldn’t know who I was talking about. This Nobel Peace Prize winning man was a major factor for saving billions of people around the world through his work. He was deeply worried about the effects that an impending, yet quickly approaching, disaster of overpopulation was going to have on the food supply for many nations. Through his education and scientific research he created multigrain producing vines that were able to triple the amount of food that was produced on small amounts of agricultural land. Some may remember the 1985 celebrity packed bestselling album, “We Are the World” which helped create global awareness of Africa’s growing famine, causing thousands of deaths a day. If there was a theme song for Norman this would be it; without the implementation of his science this unfortunate reality would have continued to persist.

After his forestry studies at the University of Minnesota in 1942 he carried on to microbiology for the Du Pont Nemours Foundation. Agriculture was being hard hit at this time; maintaining a healthy crop was not easy due to different fungal and bacterial growths. He was the first to research a solution for this problem. Later, in 1944, he was asked to intensify his research and create a wheat strain that was resistant to disease. He moved down to Mexico to head the experimental program and shortly found success creating high-yielding disease free crops. This was a monumental breakthrough and was historically praised for this type of genetic technology. His personal goal in this research was to figure out how to create a way, using his findings, to help thwart the growing disaster of worldwide hunger.

His genetic science in agricultural development spread from the North and South American Continent to South East and West Asia. He was able to produce the same abundant growth for the rice industry – spawning what was known today as the green revolution. The already existing infrastructure had no idea how to handle the record amounts of wheat and rice being produced. In fact, so much was harvested that municipal buildings were being used as holding stalls for the immense, exploding inventory. Now most of the poorest countries were producing crops and feeding hungry nations.

This once inconceivable agricultural feat was now a reality. Norman’s creation was beyond what he ever thought he would accomplish and surpassed expectation. This breakthrough didn’t come without its challenges; in fact there was a huge protest to the development of genetically engineered crops. This protest unfortunately made hungry paranoid nations go hungrier. Propaganda from anti G.E. Parties created a fear in these nations, forcing them to resist what could have been for them a certain salvation. This was an upsetting dilemma for Norman Borlaug as his life work that was intended for the betterment of mankind was being heckled. Although there were protests from many leaders around the world, others agreed that his work was worthy of praise. In 1970 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and given the respect that he well deserved.

By the early eighties anti G.E. Crop organizers had convinced others to stop promoting their products in Africa. This hurt Africa’s economic stability badly and it quickly collapsed – creating a rise in poverty and hunger. The issue got so bad that many people worldwide were searching for a solution as the death toll rose by the hour. Celebrity musician got together and created what was one of history’s biggest musical events, “We Are the World,” raising an essential awareness to the dire situation in Africa. It was because of this, they were able to fund a solution for this deprived part of the world in conjunction with a plan created by Norman Borlaug himself. This effort brought the practice from Asia over to Africa – ultimately saving millions of lives.

Norman Borlaug is a man beyond the term “Hero,” he deserves the gratitude of every household as the man who saved the world. September 12, 2009 marks the day Norman left this earth. Undeniably, it is also a day that brings hope from one man’s strong compassion to keep civilizations from the brink of disaster and allowing it to continue to thrive. This day we celebrate a man who celebrated life; Thank You Norman Borlaug.

Norman Borlaug Congressional Gold Medal

Comments are closed.