September 14, 2009

A Great American passes


Norman Borlaug died on September 12th 2009. No newspaper or blog I read covered his death. But in a sense Borlaug's acheivements stand on a par with anyone in the twentieth century: it is quite possible that he personally saved more lives than almost anyone else. What Borlaug did was to work methodically and industriously on one of the greatest problems to confront the world in the mid-century: how to create a strain of wheat that would survive in the third world. He managed to cross various varieties of the plant, to breed types of wheat that could survive in almost any conditions and to sell those both to Mexico and eventually to India and Pakistan. The consequences of his revolution were phenomenal: in Pakistan between 1965 and 1970, wheat production doubled, India turned from a net importer to a net exporter of food. According to the New York Times about half the world's population goes to bed every night having eaten something that Dr Borlaug and his colleagues invented- for that acheivement he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

I could annex all this to an argument but I think that would do a disservice. I don't really know enough about Dr Borlaug nor about his methods to make a sensible case: what I do know is that on September 12th a great American passed away, its my hope that in the laboratories and universities of the world we see his like again.

1 comments:

James Higham said...

They do indeed stand on a par and it is this sort of unsung hero [to the world at large] against whom the mob in Westminster pale quite significantly.