Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Celebrating 100 Years of Norman Borlaug: The Father of the Green Revolution

Food

By all accounts, Norman Borlaug, deemed the "Father of the Green Revolution," was a hardworking and humble man, reports CSA News.

When the phone call came to tell him that he had won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize, he was working in his wheat fields, and his wife, Margaret, had to deliver the news to him. As he received other awards throughout the years, colleagues say he remained focused on the work.

“He had all these awards—the Congressional Gold Medal, the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Science," said Ronald Phillips, regents professor at the University of Minnesota. "Yet, in all my time visiting with him, he never mentioned one. Even up to his death he was still promoting agricultural science."

March 25 is the 100th anniversary of Borlaug's (1914-2009) birthday. It is also National Ag Day.

Through dedication and lifelong effort, Borlaug was credited with saving a billion lives. His nickname, Father of the Green Revolution, was coined after he helped facilitate the vast changes in agricultural practices that exponentially increased food production from the 1950s and onward.

After earning his doctorate in plant pathology in genetics, Borlaug began his research in Mexico. One of the first problems he addressed in the country was stem rust, which was killing off wheat crops and causing food shortages.

To solve the problem, Borlaug developed Mexican semi-dwarf varieties, which had multiple benefits. The shorter wheat produced stronger stalks and two to three times more grain than standard varieties. These new varieties transformed wheat cultivation in Mexico.

By 1963, 95 percent of the wheat grown in the country came from Borlaug’s breeding programs. The wheat harvest that year was six times larger than the harvest in 1944, when he first arrived in Mexico.

He then took his work to India and Pakistan, bringing new seeds to help feed the worlds’ poor. Between 1965 and 1970, India’s wheat crop went from 12 million to 21 million tons. Soon his ideas and principles were being copied in China and Africa.

“The greatest thing he did for the field of agronomy was to begin to show people that they had to think about multiple parts of the system,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Lab Director Jerry Hatfield. “If you think about what he did in the Green Revolution, it wasn’t about genetics, and it wasn’t about fertility, and it wasn’t about water. It was about all of those different things together.”

Others credit Borlaug with an ability to get people to collaborate, as he spoke to scientists, politicians and farmers with the same ease.

“I cannot emphasize too strongly the fact that further progress depends on intelligent, integrated and persistent effort by government leaders, statesmen, tradesmen, scientists, educators and communication agencies … We can and must make continuous progress,” said Borlaug during his Nobel Prize acceptance lecture.

National Ag Day recognizes and celebrates the abundance provided by agriculture, according to the Agriculture Council of America, which organizes the annual event. On March 25, food producers, universities, corporations and other supporters will celebrate the contributions of agriculture.

Visit EcoWatch’s FOOD and HEALTH pages for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Zak Smith

It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Hector Chapa

With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.

But can these masks be effective?

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Jörg Carstensen / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

Bayer AG is reneging on negotiated settlements with several U.S. law firms representing thousands of plaintiffs who claim exposure to Monsanto's Roundup herbicides caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, sources involved in the litigation said on Friday.

Read More Show Less
Tom Werner / DigitalVision / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

With many schools now closed due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, you may be looking for activities to keep your children active, engaged, and entertained.

Although numerous activities can keep kids busy, cooking is one of the best choices, as it's both fun and educational.

Read More Show Less
In Germany's Hunsrück village of Schorbach, numerous photovoltaic systems are installed on house roofs, on Sept. 19, 2019. Thomas Frey / Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Germany's target for renewable energy sources to deliver 65% of its consumed electricity by 2030 seemed on track Wednesday, with 52% of electricity coming from renewables in 2020's first quarter. Renewable energy advocates, however, warned the trend is imperiled by slowdowns in building new wind and solar plants.

Read More Show Less