What can we learn from Alltech’s 2014 Medal of Excellence winner, Norman Borlaug, the Father of the Green Revolution? Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may have said it best shortly after Borlaug’s death in 2009, “His life and achievements are testimony to the far reaching contribution that one man’s towering intellect, persistence and scientific vision can make to human peace and progress.”
Dr. Borlaug is proof that knowledge is the key to changing the world. So as we ask “What if?” this week at Alltech’s 30th Annual Symposium, we should ask ourselves, “What if, as professionals in agribusiness, we looked past personal recognition and achievement and saw what we could do together to feed the world of 9 billion by 2050?”
In a video produced by Maithili Institute for Human Nutrition, Borlaug said of the global hunger epidemic, “We’re going to need you to be ready, not with guns and daggers, but with science and technology. If the people of the affluent nations want to hope to have tranquillity and peace for their children and grandchildren, it has to start with alleviating hunger.”
If you don’t know Borlaug’s story, here’s a brief background: During the mid-20th century, a vast food shortage was taking place in Mexico, Pakistan and India, leading to famine, political unrest, disease and poverty. As a solution, Borlaug developed semi-dwarf, high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties, which doubled wheat yields in those countries, and greatly improved food security. He introduced the wheat with modern agricultural production techniques to Asia and Africa as well, helping to bring peace to nations by increasing food supply. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, earned a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and has been called the “Father of the Green Revolution” for his advancements in agriculture that saved over a billion people worldwide from starvation.
Today, Alltech recognizes the life of an extraordinary man. The Alltech Medal of Excellence is awarded each year during the opening session of Alltech’s International Symposium to individuals whose unique contribution has changed the global food industry. Thanks to Julie Borlaug Larson for being here today to accept the award and for continuing her grandfather’s legacy.
So what’s the key takeaway from all of this, as agribusiness professionals and students attend Alltech’s 30th Annual International Symposium? Perhaps those of us in agriculture and agricultural science should look at our industry’s potential to create a peaceful world.