A Great Iowan Remembered Today

Farmer Gene

Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Statue Unveiled

Today, March 25th at 11:00amEST, Dr. Norman Borlaug was honored for his contributions to the field of agriculture and his effort to eradicate world hunger as his statue was unveiled at the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. Norman Borlaug would have been 100 years old on this day, but his legacy still carries on.

The ceremony included tributes from Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Iowa Governor Terry E. Branstad (R); Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president, The World Food Prize Foundation; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV); Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH); House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA); Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA); Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA); and Representative Tom Latham (R-IA).

Jim Greenwood, President and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) issued the following statement in tribute to Dr. Borlaug:

“On behalf of BIO and its members, we join millions around the world in celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, and we applaud the State of Iowa for commissioning the 7-ft. bronze statue to be displayed in the National Statuary Hall Collection.

“Through scientific innovation, compassion for the poor, and expert knowledge of agricultural practices, Borlaug introduced groundbreaking technologies that will forever change the practices of farmers and the prospects for hungry people around the globe…

“We need to fight agriculture’s real challenges: plant diseases, diminishing natural resources, climate change and global food poverty. Biotechnology is a key tool in this fight, and it’s time for science to move forward…

“He proved to the world that large-scale progress is attainable. We know we can increase the world’s food supply. We can help alleviate hunger, raise farmers’ incomes, improve health and nutrition, expand opportunities and strengthen regional economies. This mission is not just scientific, it’s humanitarian.”

Unfortunately, many of the principles that guided Borlaug’s work are being criticized in the debate over GMOs, as this Washington Times editorial, “The Legacy of Genius” describes:

“Borlaug, an Iowa-born biologist, was the driving force behind the Green Revolution. His agricultural techniques allowed impoverished developing countries to feed themselves for the first time, ultimately saving more than a billion people from starvation. His technique had three primary components. To increase crop yields, Borlaug determined that farmers needed to plant hearty, disease resistant, genetically modified crops, use fertilizers to help crops grow large in poor soil, and to protect crops from destructive insects with modern pesticides. The combination is powerful and effective.

“This proven method is under attack now from left-wing environmentalists who blindly follow the goofy liberal fad of the day, no matter what it costs. Many of today’s well-fed ‘progressives,’ who aren’t progressive at all, would rather see the millions go hungry than allow Borlaug’s life-saving recipe of genetically modified crops, fertilizers and pesticides to feed the world.”

Borlaug ‘was a passionate believer in biotechnology and a passionate devotee of science,’ said Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation begun by Borlaug. Quinn, a former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, said Borlaug took to heart an inscription in the Great Hall of the National Academy of Sciences building that describes science as the ‘pilot of industry, conqueror of disease, multiplier of the harvest, explorer of the universe, revealer of nature’s laws, eternal guide to truth.’

Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture site to read its blog Why You Should Know the Name Norman Borlaug:

“Most Americans have never heard the name Norman Borlaug—and that’s ironic, considering that he is hailed around the world as one of the greatest Americans ever.

“Compared to storied politicians, creative industrialists, brilliant inventors, or military heroes, Borlaug’s accomplishments have never been the topic of discussion at the dinner table — he merely set the world’s table. But what a table. The simple Iowa farm boy is credited with saving a billion people around the world from starvation and malnutrition.”

Biology Fortified (biofortified.org) posted a music video tribute to Dr. Norman Borlaug which was produced with the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT). The release of this tribute coincides with The Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security, on what would have been the 100th birthday of Dr. Borlaug. (http://www.borlaug100.org) . To view the video, visit http://www.biofortified.org or http://tinyurl.com/borlaug100 (direct YouTube link)

 

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