Friday, April 3, 2009

Norman Borlaug

Today we honor Norman Borlaug (born March 25, 1914) for his innovations in farming that allow us to feed more people than we have at any other time in history. While I probably would need a doctorate in genetics to understand the full connotations of Borlaug's inventions, the beauty of the market means I don't have to understand the details to reap the benefits. Put simply, it is Borlaug's innovations that allow us to produce enough food to feed billions of people.

Borlaug grew up in Iowa. His education at the University of Minnesota included forestry, planet pathology and genetics. Borlaug's Nobel Prize Biography puts his early years of research succinctly:
"In 1944 he accepted an appointment as geneticist and plant pathologist assigned the task of organizing and directing the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program in Mexico. This program, a joint undertaking by the Mexican government and the Rockefeller Foundation, involved scientific research in genetics, plant breeding, plant pathology, entomology, agronomy, soil science, and cereal technology. Within twenty years he was spectacularly successful in finding a high-yielding short-strawed, disease-resistant wheat."
Borlaug worked during an extremely dismal time. Famous doom-sayers, like Paul Ehrlich and Lester Brown, wrote books and actively promoted the idea that millions of people were going to die because of a lack of food. But Borlaug kept pursuing his academic work. He merged the practical application of his science with the practical realities of the world to spread The Green Revolution throughout the world and feed millions.

Borlaug went on to win the Noble Peace Prize in 1970 because of his fantastic innovations. And even today, at 95 years old, he still is working to improve agricultural production. Norman Borlaug is today's Hero of Capitalism because his pursuit of personal desires has led to great wealth for millions today.

I highly suggest that readers check out the sources below. I don't think the few paragraphs here do justice to the amazing circumstances of Norman Borlaug's contribution. I am truly richer today for learning about him and The Green Revolution.

Sources:
"Billions Served" from Reason
Normal Borlaug on Wikipedia
Norman Borlaug Nobel Prize Biography

Thanks to Lea for the tip!

Here's a clip from YouTube where Borlaug himself explains what he did:

1 comment:

Masculine View said...

My father, Dr. J. M Prescott, worked with Dr. Borlaug for most of his career at CIMMYT in Mexico. He used to joke that it was tough to get a promotion when the last guy in the job had a Nobel prize.

My brothers and I saw the Green Revolution first hand living first in India in the early 70s and then in Turkey where Dad traveled the Mid-East and North Africa conducting research and introducing the new crops and techniques.

Great selection for HoC.

Jon Prescott,
CEO, Astronix Research