Borlaug - a towering benefactor of humankind

FAO pays tribute to father of the Green Revolution

14 September 2009, Rome - "Norman Borlaug was a towering scientist whose work rivals that of the 20th century's other great scientific benefactors of  humankind," FAO said in a tribute to the memory of the late Nobel Prizewinner.   

"As the father of the Green Revolution which produced an unprecedented abundance of food to feed a world population that doubled between 1960 and 2000, he also helped defeat one of the most ancient scourges of humanity - mass famine. He saved countless lives."

The statement continued: "He will be doubly missed today, as we face the new challenge of feeding a world population set to increase from six billion in 2000 to more than nine billion in 2050,  a task made that much harder by climate change and competition from the bioenergy sector.

"FAO is hosting a High-Level Expert Forum on October 12-13 on How to Feed the World in 2050. The Forum's work will feed into the World Summit on Food Security a month later which is aimed at finally eradicating hunger from the face of the earth, thus completing the task which Dr Borlaug so ably began.

Wheat Rust Initiative

"FAO's association with Dr Borlaug goes back many decades. Most recently, the Organization has been an active partner in the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative which he founded in 2005 to combat the emergence of a highly virulent strain of wheat stem rust in East Africa - a disease which poses a major potential risk to global wheat production.  

"Norman Borlaug much preferred field work to office work. He received the news about his Nobel Peace Prize while working in the wheat fields of Toluca, Mexico. He trained thousands of scientists from all over the world in wheat breeding and production, always emphasizing the use of sound science to solve problems of hunger and malnutrition.

"He recently wrote to a FAO colleague, 'FAO contributed immensely to the first Green Revolution through capacity building and technology transfer. I wish FAO success in securing the Second Green Revolution for Africa.'

"FAO will work tirelessly to ensure that that dream of Dr Norman Borlaug becomes a reality."

Photo: ©FAO/Rosetta Messori
Norman Borlaug at the 2002 World Food Summit in Rome