The Man Who Fed the World

Norman who? How is that an American wins the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal (a feat only accomplished by four other people in history: Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Elie Wiesel, and Nelson Mandela) and throws a National Medal of Science in to boot, and most people don't know who he is?

How is it that an Iowa farm boy and wrestler comes to the University of Minnesota, almost isn't admitted, and accomplishes these things? How is it that this man is credited with saving as many as a billion lives and is a household name in certain developing countries, and people here are talking about Brett Favre?

I wouldn't know him either, except that I work at the University and wrote about him once, so I read his biography. Check out this story, then this great commentary from a few years back, then consider picking up the book, The Man Who Fed the World.

Borlaug not only worked to develop strains of food crops that would grow in areas of the world facing famine, but he taught the people to raise those crops and to continue his scientific work on their own. Not only did he bring new technologies and fertilizers to these areas to boost production, but he advocated for laws and public policies that helped farmers and the hungry.

And when people criticized him for advocating inorganic methods of increasing yields, his response was to invite them to join him in working among the world's hungry, and then talk. He didn't oppose organic farming; he simply knew these regions couldn't grow enough food quickly enough that way to feed those who needed it and was unwilling to choose who would starve.

He didn't give fish; he taught fishing. He may be the most remarkable man you've never heard of.

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