Norman Borlaug has died

Norman Borlaug, of the University of Minnesota, DuPont and the Rockefeller Foundation has died in Texas at the age of 95. You may well owe your life to Borlaug.

Prof Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for agricultural innovation and the development of high-yield crops.

The Green Revolution helped world food production more than double between 1960 and 1990 with Asia, Africa and Latin America in particular benefiting.

The Nobel Institute said he had helped save hundreds of millions of lives.

Prof Borlaug died late on Saturday evening at his home in Dallas from complications with cancer, said a spokesperson for Texas A&M University, where he had worked.

bbc

Comments

  1. #1 MIke Haubrich, FCD
    September 13, 2009

    Thank you, Norman!

  2. #2 MadScientist
    September 13, 2009

    Alternatards are already cheering because Norm destroyed traditional agriculture and ruined hundreds of thousands of lives with his green revolution. Really. The stupid is painful. You know that the traditional or alternative methods would really burgeon if only Big Business didn’t conspire to kill them off, and that traditional and alternative methods of agriculture really can feed the world. And yes, there’s a Santa Claus and a Jesus too.

  3. #3 Brian X
    September 13, 2009

    MadScientist:

    All that really proves is that there are luddites on every level of the political spectrum. I fully support organic and sustainable agriculture, but I do believe that ultimately Green Revolution techniques have fed more people, and ultimately combining the best of both will be the best for us all.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of the people who support organic agriculture (including its founders like J. Rodale) really understand its benefits and consider it an end in and of itself. That way lies stupidity.

  4. #4 travc
    September 14, 2009

    Give a metaphorical hug to your local Ag researchers/profs. It is a really under-appreciated field with simply vast importance and impact.

  5. #5 MadScientist
    September 14, 2009

    @Brian X: I agree. The basic problem really is overpopulation. Current intensive agriculture is destructive and resource intensive and we know the resources will not last forever (consider that the island nation of Nauru has lost about half its land area since it was largely accumulated seabird shit which was gouged and shipped across the world for fertilizer). Pushing for greater and greater production only holds off the inevitable for a comparatively short period of time. Eventually we do need to move back to less destructive farming practices; unfortunately I don’t see it happening in my lifetime. The only ethical means I know of reducing the population will take generations to show any significant effects.

    Unfortunately the current structure of the world economy would rather see a large-scale collapse of civilization rather than voluntarily cut back on growth in a planned manner. It is not as if economists are not aware of issues either – they have been for over 200 years (although the world has changed so much so the game isn’t exactly the same as 200 years ago). It has been at least 3 decades since I’ve heard economists talk about things like the “true cost of production”. One favorite example is with the mining industry – everyone wants cheap minerals/oil/coal/whatever and those products are supplied cheaply – but years later the government may find itself forking out huge amounts of money to rehabilitate an abandoned mine site.

  6. #6 intepid
    September 14, 2009

    “Alternatards are already cheering because Norm destroyed traditional agriculture and ruined hundreds of thousands of lives with his green revolution. Really.”

    Really? Can you provide some links to support this, because all I’ve seen about the place are tributes to a great guy.

  7. #7 Spiv
    September 14, 2009

    Indeed, thank you Norm! Probably one of the most understated worldwide heroes in history. How is it everyone knows who mother teresa was, but few know the name of Norman Borlaug?

  8. #8 Marc Abian
    September 15, 2009

Current ye@r *