Norman E. Borlaug

2003 John P. McGovern Science and Society Awardborlaug

Nobel laureate Norman E. Borlaug is an internationally acclaimed agronomist at Texas A&M University. A long-time Sigma Xi member, he 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, Borlaug 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.