Norman Borlaug Passes Away at 95

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

DALLAS -- Nobel Prize-winning agricultural scientist Norman Borlaug has died in Texas at age 95.

Known as the father of the "green revolution," Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in combating world hunger.

Texas A&M University spokeswoman Kathleen Phillips said Borlaug died just before 11 p.m. Saturday at his home in Dallas.

The Nobel committee honored Borlaug in 1970 for contributions to high-yield crops and other agricultural innovations in the developing world. Many experts credit his green revolution with averting global famine during the second half of the 20th century.

The Iowa-born Borlaug remained active well into his 90s, campaigning for the use of biotechnology to fight hunger and working on projects to alleviate poverty.

The following is a press release from Texas A&M University on the passing of Borlaug:

Norman E. Borlaug, the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner for developing high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat used to prevent famine in developing countries throughout the world died today in Dallas, Texas.

Borlaug, whose career was dedicated to employing science to combat international hunger, was Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture in Texas A&M University’s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. He was 95.

In 2007, he accepted 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 recent interview. “There has been great progress, and food is more equitably distributed. But hunger is a commonplace, and famine appears all too often.” Even at age 95, 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 days 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. Dr. Borlaug also received his master’s and doctorate degree 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, 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 of international agriculture. In this program he introduced science and techniques for preventing famine in Mexico. He later used the lessons learned in Mexico to disprove 1960s doomsday predictions of mass famine throughout South and East Asia. Today, India is self-sufficient in food production due to Dr. Borlaug’s interventions.

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. Dr. Borlaug’s current international work has been cooperative efforts with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico and the Sasakawa Africa Association.

In 1984, Borlaug came to Texas A&M as Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture in soil and crop sciences, dividing his time to teach in College Station and return each spring to Mexico where he continued research and participation in global efforts against world hunger.

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