Norman Ernest Borlaug, American biologist, Died at 95

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Dead, Norman Ernest Borlaug on September 12, 2009 at the age of 95, he was an American biologist, humanitarian and Nobel laureate who has been called “the father of the Green Revolution”, “agriculture’s greatest spokesperson “and “The Man Who Saved A Billion Lives”.

Born on March 25, 1914 in a farmhouse south of Cresco, Iowa, he graduated with a Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of Minnesota in 1941.

He went on to study genetic mutation in plants at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Cooperative Mexican Agricultural Program in Mexico.

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.

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.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.

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”.

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%”.

In 1940, the Avila Camacho administration took office in Mexico.

The administration’s primary goal for Mexican agriculture was augmenting the nation’s industrialization and economic growth. U.S. Vice President-Elect Henry Wallace, who was instrumental in persuading the Rockefeller Foundation to work with the Mexican government in agricultural development, saw Avila Camacho’s ambitions as beneficial to U.S. economic and military interests.

The Rockefeller Foundation contacted E.C. Stakman and two other leading agronomists.

They developed a proposal for a new organization, the Office of Special Studies, as part of the Mexican Government, but directed by the Rockefeller Foundation.

It was to be countries, six in the Near and Middle East, several in Africa.


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