[June 15, 2016] When we speak of a hero, we normally think of someone who does something that requires great physical or moral courage … but that doesn’t always apply, especially in modern times. Since the beginning of time, animals have lived on the edge of starvation. One man, Norman Borlaug however made such a tremendous contribution to plant food production that he is known as the man who saved a billion lives.1
“If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time cultivate the fields to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace.” – Norman Borlaug, American Biologist, Humanitarian, and Nobel Laureate
Courage in battle is the ultimate test of manhood. We read about the exploits of great heroes from ancient history in the texts of the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans. War involves the taking of life and the destruction of property, often on vast scales. But manhood is also defined as being a good citizen and making contributions to your community and nation.
Enter Norman Borlaug, biologist. War certainly affected Borlaug as he worked on various projects for the U.S. government during World War II and the problems he encountered to send hybrid plant seeds to South Asia due to war between India and Pakistan. For his work, he is also known as the father of the Green Revolution.
At the time when everyone was reading Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb (1968) predicting the world would run out of food due to population increases, Borlaug had developed plant seed that could withstand hotter and dryer climates. Due to his work, Mexico, India, and Pakistan experienced food production boosts that outpaced population increases. More Latin American countries, the Near and Middle East, and several countries in Africa also benefited.
Borlaug’s work on the world food supply earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, and the Padma Vibhushan (India’s second highest civilian honor). None of this was easy, of course. The obstacles that hindered Borlaug’s desire to feed the world were staggering but through his intellect, persistence, and positive attitude he was able to overcome them all.
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