Dr. Norman Borlaug, Outstanding U of M alum, has died
Nobel Prize-winning scientist Norman Borlaug, father of the 'green revolution,' dies at age 95
DALLAS - Agricultural scientist Norman Borlaug, the father of the "green revolution" who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in combating world hunger and saving hundreds of millions of lives, died Saturday in Texas, a Texas A&M University spokeswoman said. He was 95. The Nobel committee honored Borlaug in 1970 for his contributions to high-yield crop varieties and bringing other agricultural innovations to the developing world. Many experts credit the green revolution with averting global famine during the second half of the 20th century and saving perhaps 1 billion lives.
Equal parts scientist and humanitarian, the Iowa-born Borlaug realized improved crop varieties were just part of the answer, and pressed governments for farmer-friendly economic policies and improved infrastructure to make markets accessible. A 2006 book about Borlaug is titled "The Man Who Fed the World."
"More than any other single person of his age, he has helped to provide bread for a hungry world," Nobel Peace Prize committee chairman Aase Lionaes said in presenting the award to Borlaug. "We have made this choice in the hope that providing bread will also give the world peace."
Borlaug often said wheat was only a vehicle for his real interest, which was to improve people's lives.
"We must recognize the fact that adequate food is only the first requisite for life," he said in his Nobel acceptance speech. "For a decent and humane life we must also provide an opportunity for good education, remunerative employment, comfortable housing, good clothing and effective and compassionate medical care."
In Mexico, Borlaug was known both for his skill in breeding plants and for his eagerness to labor in the fields himself, rather than to let assistants do all the hard work.
He left home during the Great Depression to study forestry at the University of Minnesota. While there he earned himself a place in the university's wrestling hall of fame and met his future wife, whom he married in 1937. Margaret Borlaug died in 2007 at the age of 95.
After a brief stint with the U.S. Forest Service, Norman Borlaug returned to the University of Minnesota for a doctoral degree in plant pathology. He then worked as a microbiologist for DuPont, but soon left for a job with the Rockefeller Foundation. Between 1944 and 1960, Borlaug dedicated himself to increasing Mexico's wheat production.
In July 2007, Borlaug received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor given by Congress.
He is survived by daughter Jeanie Borlaug Laube and her husband Rex; son William Gibson Borlaug and his wife Barbie; five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
They asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Borlaug International Scholars Fund. It helps students from developing countries pursue graduate studies or short-term experiential learning activities at Texas A&M or other land grant universities in the U.S.
It should be noted that Dr. Borlaug initially started at the U of M in General College, because he was considered academically unqualified for regular admission...