Who is Norman Borlaug and why you should know his name

We talk a lot about food at this here site. We talk about recipes, politics, corporatism, good taste and not always in the same conversation. But rarely do I touch upon people who’ve actually made a difference in the food world. Emphasis on the word ‘world’.

Let me briefly mention Norman Borlaug. “Who is he?”, you may be asking yourself at the moment. As Penn Jillete (of Penn and Teller) once noted,”When (Norman) won the Nobel Prize in 1970, they said he had saved a billion people. That’s BILLION. ‘BUH!’ That’s Carl Sagan’s billion with a ‘B’. And most of them were of different race from him. Norman is the greatest human being.”

What did he do? He developed a type of genetically engineered scientifically crossbred wheat. Borlaug then introduced this grain, as well as modern agricultural production techniques, to Pakistan, India and Mexico,. The end result of this? He increased their food production from 500-1000 kilograms per Hectacre to 2000, 2500 and 5000 kilograms to each respective country. The Nobel committee was correct — the man has saved billions of lives.

I bring his name up for two reasons -

1. The dude should be a household name. Along the lines of Einstein and Newton.
2. His work is the best example of what science and food can do. When people dismiss Genetically Modified and other scientifically developed food outright, he’s the man I point to in order to refute their charges.

That’s not to say that there are not issues surrounding Genetically Modified food , as there are many. But like anything else, with moderation and proper diligence, these foods add the the benefit of our society. They should not be dismissed for what they can accomplish.

I wanted to put this out into the ether this morning. Thanks!

UPDATE: Touched up a line to better make a point.

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