Green Revolution: 'The Legacy of Norman Borlaug' [Kenneth M. Quinn @ WorldsApart]
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Hailed as the miraculous end to world hunger and slammed as the seed of evil, few issues polarize more than GMOs. Is quantity or quality the real problem with food, and how do we distribute it fairly? Will bio-technology feed the world or is there malice in the miracle? Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, the President of The World Food Prize, joins Oksana to chew over these issues.
Norman Ernest Borlaug (March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009) was an American biologist, humanitarian and Nobel laureate who has been called "the father of the Green Revolution", "agriculture's greatest spokesperson" and "The Man Who Saved A Billion Lives". He is one of seven people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal and was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honor.
Nobel Peace Prize
For his contributions to the world food supply, Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. Norwegian officials notified his wife in Mexico City at 4:00 am, but Borlaug had already left for the test fields in the Toluca valley, about 40 miles (65 km) west of Mexico City. A chauffeur took her to the fields to inform her husband. According to his daughter, Jeanie Laube, "My mom said, 'You won the Nobel Peace Prize,' and he said, 'No, I haven't', ... It took some convincing ... He thought the whole thing was a hoax". He was awarded the prize on December 10. In his Nobel Lecture the following day, he speculated on his award: "When the Nobel Peace Prize Committee designated me the recipient of the 1970 award for my contribution to the 'green revolution', they were in effect, I believe, selecting an individual to symbolize the vital role of agriculture and food production in a world that is hungry, both for bread and for peace".
Borlaug continually advocated increasing crop yields as a means to curb deforestation. The large role he played in both increasing crop yields and promoting this view has led to this methodology being called by agricultural economists the "Borlaug hypothesis", namely that increasing the productivity of agriculture on the best farmland can help control deforestation by reducing the demand for new farmland. According to this view, assuming that global food demand is on the rise, restricting crop usage to traditional low-yield methods would also require at least one of the following: the world population to decrease, either voluntarily or as a result of mass starvations; or the conversion of forest land into crop land. It is thus argued that high-yield techniques are ultimately saving ecosystems from destruction. On a global scale, this view holds strictly true ceteris paribus, if deforestation only occurs to increase land for agriculture. But other land uses exist, such as urban areas, pasture, or fallow, so further research is necessary to ascertain what land has been converted for what purposes, to determine how true this view remains. Increased profits from high-yield production may also induce cropland expansion in any case, although as world food needs decrease, this expansion may decrease as well.