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

ManagementPresident Trump, Wisconsin Review, and a Dow-DuPont Update
January 18, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj reflect on a new administration, a recent winter show, and crop protection company mergers. Read More
Werner Baumann, Bayer AG, and Hugh Grant, Monsanto
Industry NewsReport: Monsanto, Bayer CEOs Among Latest to Make Trump Tower Pilgrimage
January 18, 2017
The chief executive officers of German chemical giant Bayer AG and U.S. seed behemoth Monsanto, Werner Baumann and Hugh Grant, Read More
Management3 Financial Trends To Watch In Agriculture
January 17, 2017
I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting of credit managers for Midwest ag supply and input companies, in part Read More
Fall Creek Seth Harden The Nature Conservancy
StewardshipLocal Farmers’ Watershed Initiative: Continuous Improvement Is Possible In 5 Key Areas
January 13, 2017
The goal in the Big Pine Watershed Project is to more intentionally do what local farmers and responsible ag retailers Read More
Trending Articles
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
Latest News
ManagementPresident Trump, Wisconsin Review, and a Dow-DuPont Upd…
January 18, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj reflect on a new administration, a recent winter show, and crop protection company mergers. Read More
Industry NewsBayer, MS Technologies Get China Approval For Balance G…
January 18, 2017
MS Technologies and Bayer have received import approval from China for Balance GT soybeans. The new Balance GT Soybean Performance Read More
Werner Baumann, Bayer AG, and Hugh Grant, Monsanto
Industry NewsReport: Monsanto, Bayer CEOs Among Latest to Make Trump…
January 18, 2017
The chief executive officers of German chemical giant Bayer AG and U.S. seed behemoth Monsanto, Werner Baumann and Hugh Grant, Read More
Giant Ragweed
HerbicidesStudy: Focusing On Weed Seedbank Can Help Manage Herbic…
January 18, 2017
Researchers writing in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science provide important insights on the control of herbicide-resistant giant Read More
Management3 Financial Trends To Watch In Agriculture
January 17, 2017
I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting of credit managers for Midwest ag supply and input companies, in part Read More
Andersons Retail Store
CropLife 100The Andersons To Close All Retail Stores; Shutdown Does…
January 16, 2017
In a stunning announcement to the Toledo area, The Andersons Inc. said on Sunday that it would close its two Read More
Trimble TMX-2050 In-Cab Display
Eric SfiligojPrecision To Lead Agriculture In 2017?
January 16, 2017
Another new year is upon us! And I’m certain I speak for many in the agricultural world when I say Read More
Corn
Eric SfiligojThe Mood From Madison? In A Holding Pattern
January 16, 2017
Last week, I had the chance to attend the annual Wisconsin AgriBusiness Classic show in Madison, WI. It’s been a Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsAccenture Helps Syngenta Transform Its Global Logistics
January 13, 2017
Syngenta, a leading agriculture company, has collaborated with Accenture to design and implement a new digital logistics operating model across Read More
Fall Creek Seth Harden The Nature Conservancy
StewardshipLocal Farmers’ Watershed Initiative: Continuous Improve…
January 13, 2017
The goal in the Big Pine Watershed Project is to more intentionally do what local farmers and responsible ag retailers Read More
HerbicidesEPA Expands Enlist Duo Herbicide Registration To 34 Sta…
January 13, 2017
The U.S. EPA has expanded the geography for application of Enlist Duo herbicide from 15 to 34 states. This means Read More
Olson Ag Enterprise
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Nebraska Seed Retailer
January 13, 2017
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
ManagementDeere-Precision Planting Update and the Ag Secretary Wa…
January 12, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj provide the latest on the court date for John Deere/Precision Planting and the quest Read More
Monsanto sign
Seed/BiotechMonsanto, NRGene Form Agreement For Big Data Genomic An…
January 12, 2017
Monsanto Co. and NRGene have announced that the companies have reached a non-exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement on NRGene’s genome-analysis Read More
AGCO Custom applicator
SprayersAGCO, Asmark Institute To Offer Training For Beginning …
January 11, 2017
AGCO Corp. and the Asmark Institute are collaborating to offer a new training program dedicated to educating and developing custom Read More
ManagementAg Land Values In Limbo In 2017
January 10, 2017
Several factors will come into play in 2017 that will determine the direction of land values. Randy Dickhut, senior vice Read More
Industry NewsPattison Agriculture Positioned To Be Leading Canadian …
January 10, 2017
Pattison Agriculture Limited (Pattison Agriculture), a division of The Jim Pattison Group (the Pattison Group), has announced the merger of Read More
Fertilizer Tender close-up
MicronutrientsHow Micronutrients Fit Into 2017 Fertility Plans
January 10, 2017
Where do micronutrients stand going forward in fertility plans? For one thing, Tim Mundorf, Field Representative with Midwest Laboratories, says Read More