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Norman Borlaug, an agronomist widely recognized as the "father of the
Green Revolution" whose work helped feed millions of the world's people,
has died of cancer at the age of 95.
A descendant of Norwegian immigrants, Norman Borlaug was born on March 25th,
1914 in the agricultural state of Iowa. In 1944 he became the head of the
newly-formed Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program in Mexico, where
he developed semi-dwarf, high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties and
combined them with modern agricultural production techniques, more than
tripling production. This was the beginning of the Green Revolution.
Mexico, which had imported 60% of its wheat in the early 1940s, became
self-sufficient by 1956. By 1963 Mexico started exporting wheat, and Norman
Borlaug, working with researchers throughout the world, began to introduce his
technique where ever famine threatened. His first stop was Asia, and as a
result, in the late 1960s, grain yields nearly doubled in Pakistan and India.
Pakistan was self-sufficient by 1968, India in 1974. Then, in the early 1980s,
Norman Borlaug turned his attention to Africa.
In 1970, Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his
contributions to world peace through increasing food supply. He is also the
recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold
Medal, one of only five people to receive all three honors.
One of Norman Borlaug's lasting contributions was the creation of the World
Food Prize, established in 1986. The international award recognizes the
achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving
the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
Because Norman Borlaug's efforts have averted famine, he is credited with
saving from death by starvation as many as one billion people. When, in his
final days, Norman Borlaug's daughter asked him if he needed anything, he
responded: "Africa. Africa. I have not finished my mission in
Upon his death on September 12th, his children released a statement that paid
the ultimate tribute to his life's work in a single sentence: "We would
like his life to be a model for making a difference in the lives of others, and
to bring about efforts to end human misery for all mankind."