World Mourns Norman Borlaug’s Passing

Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, who received the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for developing high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat used to prevent famine in developing countries throughout the world, died in Dallas, TX, shortly before 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12, from complications of cancer.

Borlaug, 95, whose career was dedicated to using science to combat world hunger, was Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture in Texas A&M University’s department of soil and crop sciences. The memorial service, which will be held at Texas A&M in College Station, is pending.

In 2007, Borlaug received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor of the United States. This capped a string of major awards and honors throughout his scientific and humanitarian career.

“We all eat at least three times a day in privileged nations, and yet we take food for granted,” Borlaug said in a recent interview. “There has been great progress, and food is more equitably distributed. But hunger is commonplace, and famine appears all too often.”

Until recently, Borlaug still traveled internationally working tirelessly for improvements in agricultural science and food policy. He regularly could be found in his office on campus in College Station advising students and providing counsel to fellow faculty members on research and scholarship.

His childhood days were spent on an Iowa farm, influenced by his Norwegian grandfather’s lessons on common sense. At the University of Minnesota, where he began his college education during the Depression of the 1930s, he was told his high school education had not prepared him properly in science and math. He failed an entrance exam and was placed in the General College.

But that experience made Borlaug work hard on his studies. He earned meals as a restaurant waiter and paid for tuition and books by saving money from summer jobs. Borlaug also received his master’s and doctorate degrees in plant pathology from University of Minnesota.

During World War II, Borlaug was in charge of industrial and agricultural chemical research for a DuPont laboratory. In 1944, after his release from the War Manpower Commission, he became a scientist for the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program — a joint venture between the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican government which began his life-long passion for international agriculture.

This project became the institution known as CIMMYT, Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo (The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) near Mexico City. In this program, he introduced scientific techniques for preventing famine in Mexico and began bringing into the program promising young scientists, later named “Borlaug Interns.”

He used the lessons learned in Mexico later to disprove 1960s doomsday predictions of mass famine throughout South and East Asia.

By this time, “Borlaug Interns” were coming from many countries, and these interns were instrumental in implementing what was later named the “Green Revolution” in wheat production. Today, India and Pakistan are self-sufficient in food production due to Borlaug’s interventions. In 1970, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for this work recognizing that agricultural productivity has a pivotal role in creating stability and preventing conflict.

In 1986, he created the World Food Prize to give recognition to the work of scientists and humanitarians who have contributed to advancing international agriculture and fighting world hunger. Borlaug’s most recent international work was cooperative efforts with CIMMYT, in Mexico, and the Sasakawa Africa Association program. One of his favorite parts of the World Food Prize celebration each October was the success of the Youth Institute.

In 1984, Borlaug came to Texas A&M as Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture, dividing his time between College Station each fall to teach and at CIMMYT in Mexico each spring where he continued research and participation in global efforts to reduce world hunger.

Borlaug’s passions extended beyond agriculture. He loved sports and started Little League Baseball in Mexico City so that his then-young son, William Gibson Borlaug, could play while the family was living there. Borlaug was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1992. He was also passionate about training, mentoring, and challenging young scientists, instilling in them the desire to teach and adopt science-based practices that increase the world’s food supply and thus serve mankind by leading to a more peaceful world.

At Texas A&M in 2006, the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture was named in his honor. The institute strives to continue Borlaug’s legacy by promoting science-based solutions for the world’s agriculture and food challenges. The Borlaug Institute is currently working in some of the world’s most challenging agricultural development environments such as Afghanistan, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Iraq.

Borlaug was preceded in death by his wife, Margaret. He is survived by daughter Jeanie Borlaug Laube, son William Gibson, one grandson and four grandaughters, and six great-grandchildren.

“It is the hope of the Borlaug family that his life be an example to all. We would like his life be a model for making a difference in the lives of others and to bring about efforts to end human misery for all mankind,” his children stated. “One of his favorite quotes was ‘reach for the stars. Although you will never touch them, if you reach hard enough, you will find that you get a little ‘star dust’ on you in the process!’”

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, memorials to the Borlaug International Scholars Fund. Checks should be made payable to “Texas A&M Foundation” and may be mailed to the Texas A&M Foundation, 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, TX 77840-2811. Please indicate in the Memo line “Borlaug International Scholars Fund”. This fund will allow students from developing countries to pursue graduate studies or short-term experiential learning activities at Texas A&M University or other land grant universities of the United States.

(Source: Monsanto Co.)

Leave a Reply

Management Stories
ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And Then Some
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More
StewardshipA Multi-Layered Approach To Water Quality
October 6, 2014
Illinois event highlights research and technology designed to better monitor and improve water quality — and the benefits of cooperative, coordinated effort. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
ManagementRussia Bans U.S. And EU Ag Product Imports In Ukraine Sanctions Battle
August 7, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned the import of agricultural goods from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
Latest News
HerbicidesNew EPA Glyphosate Restrictions Leaked To Reuters
April 1, 2015
U.S. regulators will put new restrictions on the world’s most widely used herbicide to help address the rapid expansion of Read More
FMC 3Rive 3D
Seed/BiotechFMC’s 3RIVE 3D Turns Heads
April 1, 2015
As winter trade shows tend to go, Commodity Classic tends to be a pretty big deal. You’ve got all the Read More
Nachurs Alpine Solutions, Liquid fertilizer, micronutrients, facility
MicronutrientsYara Launching YaraVita Procote Liquid Micronutrients
March 31, 2015
Yara North America, Inc. broadens its fertilizer coating offerings with the introduction of YaraVita Procote, oil-based micronutrient liquid suspensions that Read More
Industry NewsINCOTEC Board Member To Retire
March 31, 2015
JanWillem Breukink has decided to retire from his position on INCOTEC’s Board of Directors, effective April 1, 2015. This was Read More
MicronutrientsAgrium Deals Michigan Micronutrient Facility To Cameron…
March 31, 2015
Cameron Chemicals, Inc. has announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Agrium Inc. to purchase the Read More
Industry NewsH.J. Baker Creates, Fills New Pacific Northwest Sales P…
March 30, 2015
H.J. Baker announced today that Gary Bingham has joined the company’s Crop Performance Division to further deepen its sales portfolio Read More
Algal blooms
StewardshipStudy: Algae From Clogged Waterways Could Be Used As Bi…
March 30, 2015
Water-borne algal blooms from farm fertilizer runoff can destroy aquatic life and clog rivers and lakes, but scientists are reporting Read More
Young corn plants
Stewardship4R Nutrient Stewardship Summit Coming To DC
March 30, 2015
The annual 4R Nutrient Stewardship Summit will be held on May 12 in Washington DC. The summit will include a full Read More
FungicidesSyngenta Suing Willowood Over Azoxystrobin Fungicide
March 27, 2015
Syngenta announced today that it has sued agrochemical maker Willowood, LLC., for patent and copyright infringement, as well as unfair Read More
ManagementRetail Week: The Future Of Mycogen Seeds; The 4Rs At Na…
March 27, 2015
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Matt Hopkins discuss recent trips, including a look at the future of Mycogen Seeds at Dow Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto Hears The WHO
March 27, 2015
Another challenge to the safety of glyphosate, and the responses from supporters and opponents, calls to mind a classic Dr. Seuss story. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Plant Food Expands Sales Team
March 27, 2015
Monty’s Plant Food Company, a leader in natural soil enhancement and  plant fertility products, has hired Andrew Bullock as a Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Louisiana Plant Poised For 2015 Production
March 26, 2015
As the 2015 planting season gets underway, growers across the country will need crop protection products to combat pests and Read More
Lake Erie Nutrient Stewardship
LegislationOhio Lawmakers Finalize Phosphorus Restrictions
March 25, 2015
State lawmakers on Wednesday finalized new rules designed to curb toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, calling the regulations a major step forward in addressing the problem. Read More
Spreaders17 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2015
March 25, 2015
Manufacturers shoot for versatility and accuracy in this year's crop of fertilizer spreaders. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Hires Mid-South Product Consultant
March 25, 2015
Monty's Plant Food Co. has hired Matt Woodring as a Product Consultant for portions of Central Kentucky and Tennessee.    Read More
StewardshipMapShots Integrates With DriftWatch
March 23, 2015
Growers and agricultural providers using AgStudio FARM and AgStudio PRO can now view vital information about specialty crops and apiaries through a recent integration with the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry from FieldWatch, Inc. Read More
Crop InputsWorld Health Organization Report Contradicts Scientific…
March 23, 2015
A new report from the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate with a “2A” rating as a probable carcinogen, a Read More