title of this biography, The Man Who Fed the World, is indeed
appropriate. My good friend Norman Borlaug has accomplished more
than any other one individual in history in the battle to end
As a young Rockefeller Foundation scientist in the mid-20th century,
Dr. Borlaug developed high-yielding varieties of wheat that took
Mexico from near-starvation to self-sufficiency within a few years.
A decade later, when India and Pakistan suffered widespread hunger
and even famine, he introduced his new seed and production technologies
in the Asian sub-continent and successfully campaigned at the
highest levels of government to get policy changes that averted
famine in the mid to late 1960s. In response to the combination
of his scientific and humanitarian achievements, the Nobel Committee
awarded Dr. Borlaug the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.
That was only the beginning of his remarkable accomplishments.
Since 1970, for example, Norman Borlaug has made a number of trips
to China, where his technology, his policy suggestions, and his
training of young Chinese scientists helped alleviate hunger in
that country of 1.3 billion people. In the Southern Cone of South
America, the early maturity of his Mexican wheats permitted double
cropping of wheat and soybeans, with tremendous increases in production.
For his technology and his humanitarian efforts, he is revered
in many countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, Latin America,
Since 1986, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Norman
Borlaug in sub-Saharan Africa where, in spite of AIDS, endemic
malaria and other maladies, populations are increasing faster
than food supplies. I have witnessed first-hand the reverence
that thousands upon thousands of Africans have for Dr. Borlaug’s
untiring efforts to relieve their hunger.
Norman Borlaug’s scientific achievements have saved hundreds of
millions of lives and earned him the distinction as one of the
100 most influential individuals of the 20th century. I commend
Leon Hesser for making more people aware of the remarkable life
and achievements of this American hero.