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The most important man you never heard of.

   I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space.
- Adm. James T. Kirk

   Norman Borlaug was from Iowa, too. He worked mostly in Mexico, Africa and Asia, but he might as well have been light years away for all the attention the news media paid little attention to him. Until he died a week ago last Saturday at the age of 95. 
- Borlaug, who saved millions from hunger, dies  
    Scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug rose from his childhood on an Iowa farm to develop a type of wheat that helped feed the world, fostering a movement that is credited with saving up to 1 billion people from starvation. [AP/The Buffalo News. Honors list]


    Our editorial praised his accomplishments, with a little "yes, but" thrown in:
- A giant passes
   The first round of the Green Revolution is not sustainable. But, if the next generation is as smart and as industrious as Norman Borlaug was, it won’t have to be.

   A few years ago, I wrote a book about him. OK, it was a page (43) in a book about the sins of modern agriculture called "Raising Less Corn, More Hell."
   Anything is better than mass starvation, plus all the migration, social upheaval, epidemics, and wars that would certainly accompany any significant increase in the number of hungry people. Thus, when the scientist whose work was credited for sparking the Green Revolution, American agronomist Norman Borlaug, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1970, it was not one of the science prizes. He received the Nobel Peace Prize.
    Still, this substantial victory has come at substantial costs, costs that have been driven by political and economic factors at least as much as by any changes in crop science. In fact, Borlaug could rightfully be compared to better-known atomic geniuses such as Albert Einstein, Leo Szilard, and Enrico Fermi, whose understanding and development of nuclear energy were co-opted to become the property of governments and industries that would happily sell a hundred Nobel Peace Prizes for short-term gain.

   Other commentary from The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Des Moines Register, National Post and The Wall Street Journal.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News   


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