The great Norman Borlaug Died September 12, 2009
By PAUL DRIESSEN (Washington)
Norman Borlaug just turned 94 – and is still going strong
During the “Eat This” segment of their docu-comedy series BS, Penn Jillette beat Teller in a round of their “Greatest Person in History” card game. Penn needed just one card: Norman Borlaug.
Nobel Prize Laureat Norman Borlaug
This Iowa farm boy and University of Minnesota agriculture graduate lived Thomas Edison’s maxim to the fullest. “Invention,” Edison once remarked, “is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Dr. Borlaug did most of his 99% in the sweltering fields of Africa, India, Mexico and Pakistan.
At 94, and despite having cancer, the “Father of the Green Revolution” is still “an Energizer Bunny,” his daughter Jeanie says. He serves as a consultant, attends occasional conferences, and graciously let my daughter interview him for a high school paper.
Decades ago, while neo-Malthusians were predicting mass famine, Borlaug used Rockefeller Foundation grants to unlock hidden (recessive) genes and crossbreed different wheat strains, to create new “dwarf” varieties that were resistant to destructive “rust” fungi. The shorter plants were also sturdier, put less energy into growing leaves and stalks, and thus had higher yields.