Sunday, September 13, 2009

Norman Borlaug

This weekend was a proud, yet humbling time to be a graduate of the University of Minnesota. Not because of the new on-campus Gophers football stadium, but because the world is remembering the life of Norman Borlaug (left, above), an alumnus of the University of Minnesota and a hero to mankind who passed away on September 12, 2009:

Dr. Borlaug’s advances in plant breeding led to spectacular success in increasing food production in Latin America and Asia and brought him international acclaim. In 1970, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.


Yet his work had a far-reaching impact on the lives of millions of people in developing countries. His breeding of high-yielding crop varieties helped to avert mass famines that were widely predicted in the 1960s, altering the course of history.

David Boaz suggests he be called "Borlaug the Great," a label that from what I've read the humble Dr. Borlaug would most likely be uncomfortable with. Boaz goes on to make an excellent point about how human society remembers its past:

Just think of the people who have gone down in history as “the Great“: Alexander the Great, Catherine the Great, Charles the Great (Charlemagne), Frederick the Great, Peter the Great — despots and warmongers. Just once it would be nice to see the actual benefactors of humanity designated as “the Great”: Galileo the Great, Gutenberg the Great, Samuel Morse the Great, Alan Turing the Great.

Saving the lives of hundreds of millions of people...I think that qualifies one to be "great."

Image from here.