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Norman Borlaug and the fight to end world hunger

Nobel Peace laureate Norman E. Borlaug, whose breeding of crops for poor farmers led to Asia’s famine-defusing Green Revolution four decades ago, died Saturday night after a long battle with cancer. He was 95.

I wrote this post a few years ago to tell everyone about Norman Borlaug. Now that he has passed on, I think it’s time to share his story with friends again.

In this time when our world is suffering overpopulation and food shortages locally and globally, maybe it’s time to look into some very controversial ways to solve our hunger crisis.

I have struggled with the Genetically-Modified Food controversy, even going on a diet of natural foods for quite some time. (I actually saw no change in my health or my behavior as a result of it, FYI).

And then, a couple of years ago, I heard about Norman Borlaug and decided to do some research on him.

Norman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his contributions to the world food supply.

Norman Borlaug wasn’t greedy. He wasn’t out to make money and take advantage of underprivileged countries. His only aim was to feed the world.

Norman is the founder of the Green Revolution, and the man who began this entire GM food controversy.

The fact that Norman is in his 90s and is still walking and talking like a normal person already makes me wonder if genetically-modified foods maybe aren’t so bad at all.

Norman started developing advancements in microbiology that prevented crops from corroding. These powerful, weather-resistant crops could far reach other parts of the world where food was in vast need.

Borlaug’s dream was to end world hunger. And in developing high-yielding wheat crops, he helped make Pakistan self-sufficient in wheat production in 1968. He also went on to develop high-yielding rice crops.

For his efforts in feeding more than one billion people in this world, Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

So this is who I think about when I see people talking about Frankenfoods. I think about this man, who just wanted these crops to stay alive so they could be offered more cheaply to us.

Let’s consider what the Green Revolution has done: Millions of people have lived because of Borlaug. Millions.

It’s one of those situations in which it is not easy to find all of the answers. We are now in a world in which you have to choose the side you’re going to be on.

As long as countries are thriving because of Borlaug’s technology, I will support GMOs.

In September 2008, Borlaug was still fighting to feed the hungry.

Some answers are not so simple. Some bandwagons can’t easily be jumped on. While companies such as Monsanto have manipulated Borlaug’s advancements, it’s hard to consider all the good that has come out of them.

Borlaug believes his work has been “a change in the right direction, but it has not transformed the world into a Utopia”.

Of naysaying environmental lobbyists, Borlaug has said, “some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They’ve never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things”.

Food for thought, no?

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