Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

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

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.

In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less
Monarch butterflies in Mexico's Oyamel forest in Michoacan, Mexico after migrating from Canada. Luis Acosta / AFP / Getty Images

By D. André Green II

One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.

Read More Show Less
The 30th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony on Sept. 17 introduced ten new Ig Nobel Prize winners, each intended to make people "laugh then think." Improbable Research / YouTube

The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch