Norman Ernest Borlaug

Nobel Peace Prize 1970

(1914 - 2009)

Father of the green revolution

The expression "the green revolution" is permanently linked to Norman Borlaug's name. He obtained a PhD in plant protection at the age of 27, and worked in Mexico in the 1940s and 1950s to make the country self-sufficient in grain. Borlaug recommended improved methods of cultivation, and developed a robust strain of wheat - dwarf wheat - that was adapted to Mexican conditions. By 1956 the country had become self-sufficient in wheat.

Success in Mexico made Borlaug a much sought-after adviser to countries whose food production was not keeping pace with their population growth. In the mid-1960s, he introduced dwarf wheat into India and Pakistan, and production increased enormously. The expression "the green revolution" made Borlaug's name known beyond scientific circles, but he always emphasized that he himself was only part of a team.

Borlaug was a warm adherent of birth control. The object was to strike a balance between population growth and food production.