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July 1, 2003

Norman Borlaug to Receive Sigma Xi's 2003 McGovern Award

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC -- Nobel laureate Norman E. Borlaug, an internationally acclaimed agronomist at Texas A&M University, has been named the recipient of Sigma Xi's John P. McGovern Science and Society Award.

He will present the annual McGovern Lecture at the 2003 Sigma Xi Forum, Science and Engineering: Keys to International Understanding, to be held in Los Angeles on November 12-13 in conjunction with the Society's annual meeting.

Sigma Xi presents the McGovern Award annually to a researcher who has made an outstanding contribution to science and society. The award consists of a medal and a $4,000 honorarium. Recent recipients have included Nobel laureates Mario Molina and Roald Hoffmann.

A long-time Sigma Xi member, Borlaug pioneered discoveries in high-yield agriculture that sparked the Green Revolution in the mid-1960s, saving millions around the world from starvation. For his efforts, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

As a geneticist and plant pathologist, he was assigned the task in 1944 of organizing and directing the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program in Mexico.

A joint undertaking by the Mexican government and the Rockefeller Foundation, the program involved scientific research in genetics, plant breeding, plant pathology, entomology, agronomy, soil science and cereal technology.

Within 20 years, Borlaug was spectacularly successful in finding a high-yield, disease-resistant wheat. He arranged to put new cereal strains into extensive production in order to feed the hungry people of the world.

This provided, as he said, "a temporary success in man's war against hunger and deprivation," as well as breathing space in which to deal with global population growth and the subsequent environmental and social ills that too often lead to conflict between people and nations.

The McGovern Lecture has been a highlight of Sigma Xi's annual meeting since 1984. Recipients are selected by the Society's Committee on Programs and have represented a broad spectrum of people involved with science and society activities.

Endowed by the John P. McGovern Foundation, the award is named for the founder of the renowned McGovern Allergy Clinic in Houston, Texas. Nominations must be submitted to the committee by February 1 to be considered for the following November.


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