Working together with local farmers, Dr. Norman Borlaug and his contemporaries tackled problems of huge magnitude, worked tirelessly to cross-breed new types of wheat, and eventually started a revolution in food and agriculture: The Green Revolution.
Norman E. Borlaug's labors certainly brought him awards, including a Nobel Peace Prize, a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Congressional Medal of Honor. Yet what percentage of Americans do you think would recognize his name today?
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave his speech about going to the moon and less than a decade later, America had fulfilled that goal. Two years later, he gave a similar address about ending world hunger, but 50 years later our planet is still struggling with this objective.
Dr. Borlaug is most famous for having launched what came to be known the Green Revolution -- the agricultural phenomenon responsible for an exponential increase in the amount of food produced on earth. But scientific achievements like Borlaug's can have a weird downside.
If smallholder farmers, so many of them from poor rural areas, are to thrive in the face of these climatic challenges, can we afford to rule out, as critics suggest, using biotechnology and genetically modified crops to assist them?
Given the decade-long relationship I had with him in building the World Food Prize, I am sometimes asked about what the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug might say about a particular topic.
Where others saw Mexican peasant farmers struggling with poor harvests and diseased crops -- not an attractive business opportunity -- Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug saw not problems, but potential.
Two award-winning reporters have collaborated on a new book entitledEnough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty. It is a page turner. Unless you simply don't give a damn, this is a must read.