Norman Borlaug, Megan Toombs - Borlaug revolutionized wheat production, spending hours in the fields, creating thousands of varieties of wheat, fighting tooth and nail for changes he thought necessary, and training many agricultural technicians from all over the world. Credited with saving a billion lives, Norman Borlaug won numerous awards throughout his life, including the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.We want to feed the hungry, cloth the destitute, and love the despised. But we need go about it in a way that is helpful to those in need, and not in ways that just make us feel good.
The 20th century is remarkable for bloodshed and lives lost through the madness of men. Stalin and Mao created environmental ruin and starved around 40 million. Exploding populations post-World War II caused Paul Ehrlich to write in his book Population Bomb, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over.” Ehrlich warned that only government action to force curbs on population would prevent massive destruction of the environment, and hundreds of millions dead. Unlike Ehrlich, Norman Borlaug did something positive for the world. He developed genetically modified high-yield rice and corn, which ignited the “Green Revolution.” This lead to development of hybrid grains capable of handling varying climates and prevailing diseases and increased crop yields over 700 percent.
Norman Borlaug, Henry Miller, Noel Vietmeyer - Noel Vietmeyer’s excellent, meticulously researched biography of Norman Borlaug, the plant breeder known as the Father of the Green Revolution, Our Daily Bread, portrays sympathetically one of the great figures of the 20th Century. Borlaug observed that the enemies of innovation might create a self-fulfilling prophecy: “If the naysayers do manage to stop agricultural biotechnology, they might actually precipitate the famines and the crisis of global biodiversity they have been predicting for nearly 40 years.
John Tjostem is emeritus professor of biology at Luther College in Iowa. This article on the relationship of energy to sustainability is very easy reading with powerful thinking.