Norman E. Borlaug

National Medal of Science

Biological Sciences

For his success in breeding semi-dwarf, disease-resistant high-yield wheat and instructing farmers in its cultivation under harsh growing conditions, thus providing a new high-quality food source for millions of people around the world.

For his success in breeding semi-dwarf, disease-resistant high-yield wheat and instructing farmers in its cultivation under harsh growing conditions, thus providing a new high-quality food source for millions of people around the world.

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Birth
March 25, 1914
Age Awarded
90
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
"Father Of The Green Revolution"
Awarded by
George W. Bush
Education
University of Minnesota
Areas of Impact
Energy & Environment
Affiliations
Texas A&M University
Other Prizes
Nobel Prize
Philip Hauge Abelson Prize
F

For centuries, fear that the earth lacked the capacity to sustain an ever-growing population played a powerful role in economic thought. That was before agricultural scientist Norman Borlaug, a leading figure in the “green revolution,” developed new crop varieties and agricultural techniques that have saved millions of lives and reshaped the course of human history.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1942 with a doctorate in plant pathology, Borlaug took a job as a researcher in plant breeding and genetics, where he first started working to create high-yield, disease-resistant varieties of wheat. The new cross-bred varieties he produced achieved astounding success, outperforming traditional strains by astronomical margins.

Borlaug’s contributions spread quickly, and ultimately helped boost the productivity and resilience of crops throughout the world. In just a handful of years, countries that had been historically stricken by food insecurity, such as India, Pakistan, and Mexico, became self-sufficient, and even net exporters of key grains.

Late into his career, Borlaug continued to adapt and refine his methods, broaden their access, and lead the fight for food security. For his scientific and humanitarian achievements, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1970.

By Jeremy Gordon

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