The man who saved a billion lives

The man who saved a billion lives September 15, 2009

The man who solved the world’s food problem, Norman Borlaug, died at 95. His applications of agricultural science launched the so-called “green revolution,” not in the sense of environmentalism but in growing an abundance of green, productive plant life.

Scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug rose from his childhood on an Iowa farm to develop a type of wheat that helped feed the world, fostering a movement that is credited with saving up to 1 billion people from starvation.

Borlaug, 95, died Saturday from complications of cancer at his Dallas home, said Kathleen Phillips, a spokesman for Texas A&M University where Borlaug was a distinguished professor.
“Norman E. Borlaug saved more lives than any man in human history,” said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program. “His heart was as big as his brilliant mind, but it was his passion and compassion that moved the world.”

He was known as the father of the “green revolution,” which transformed agriculture through high-yield crop varieties and other innovations, helping to more than double world food production between 1960 and 1990. Many experts credit the green revolution with averting global famine during the second half of the 20th century and saving perhaps 1 billion lives.

Now there is a life that made a difference. Food shortages continue, of course, but the causes are nearly always political and economic, not because of limited food production. Lars Walker notes a Lutheran connection.


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