September 17, 2006 - "The Man Who Fed the World"

I know that in many of our lives, we have heroes. In my case, one of my heroes is Norman Borlaug, the Iowa farm boy, who I first met in the early 60's. Dr. Norman Borlaug is being honored this month at the University of Minnesota, on the release of an authorized biography by his long-time friend, Leon Hesser.

Let me share a brief introduction to the book. “From the day he was born in 1914, Norman Borlaug has been an enigma. How could a child of the Iowa prairie, who attended a one-teacher one-room school, who flunked the University entrance exam, and who’s highest ambition was to be a high school science teacher and athletic coach, ultimately achieve the distinction as one of the hundred most influential persons of the twentieth century, and receive the Nobel Peace Prize for averting hunger and famine; and eventually be hailed as the man who saved hundreds of millions of lives from starvation, more than any other person in history.” That is the subject of the book entitled “The Man Who Fed the World.”

As I said, I met Dr. Borlaug back in the 60's and I have had the opportunity to get to know him during my many radio and TV interviews with him over the last four decades. In 1970 he became the first-ever agricultural person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and was christened with the title “The Father of the Green Revolution” for his work in developing wheat and rice that would grow in a tropical climate.

In May of 1971 President Richard Nixon set aside a day to salute American agriculture at the White House and the gates were opened to allow the public to see the agricultural displays and tractors and combines parked on the White House lawn. I was fortunate to be invited to the event and to be one of the 160 guests at the formal White House dinner honoring the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Years later, in 1996, I traveled to the University of Ludhiana in India where Dr. Borlaug did much of his research work. He is a true hero to the people of India and they have dedicated a building on campus in his honor. Over the entrance to the building is a quote from Dr. Borlaug that I will never forget. It simply says . . . “Everything else can wait, agriculture can’t.”

One of the other reasons he is my hero is our similar backgrounds; growing up on a farm, attending a one-room, eight-grade country school and sharing a Norwegian heritage.

I join millions of people around the world in saluting this man who made an unbelievable mark on the world and who at age 92 continues his work to feed hungry people....Dr. Norman Borlaug.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.