Iowa Public Television


Father of the Green Revolution Immortalized in Bronze

posted on March 28, 2014

Political instability in Ukraine, potential weather damage to the U.S. winter crop, and drought in some major wheat producing countries — have created a “trifecta” of higher prices.

The rally is attributed, primarily, to supply concerns.  Fifty years ago, an agricultural visionary also was concerned about wheat supplies. By developing new higher yielding hybrids, Dr. Norman Borlaug greatly increased the quality and availability of food in developing nations. 

And this week, the man credited with saving more than a billion people from starvation, was immortalized in bronze.

The man credited with saving more than a billion lives was immortalized in Washington D.C. this week on what would have been his 100th birthday. Before an invitation-only crowd in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall, a blue drape was pulled away to reveal a bronze likeness of Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Dr. Norman E. Borlaug.

Secretary Tom Vilsack, USDA: "But I think if Norm were here to day, he would want someone else to be acknowledged as well. Because Norm didn't do this by himself. as great as he was. As visoinary as he was, he needed partners. And those partners were the farmers of the United States and of other countries. Norm understood that they had to be convinced that a better and brighter day was ahead.”

In the early 1960s, the Cresco, Iowa native and University of Minnesota graduate, successfully bred a semi-dwarf strain of wheat that combined high yields with disease resistance. The newly developed hybrid helped curb starvation in Mexico, Pakistan and India. For his groundbreaking work, Borlaug won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize and became known as the “Father of the Green Revolution.”

House Speaker John Boehner: "“Every once in a while, someone comes along who truly changes everything.  Who fashions the ordinary into the exceptional.  Who fills a hole we didn’t even know could be filled.  Who makes us raise our eyes from the problems of the moment to look around the world.  In Iowa, there was such a man. He will stand as a great emancipator of our times. One who freed many from fear or want.”

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa: “When I think of Dr. Borlaug’s achievements, I am reminded of those famous words in the Book of Proverbs: ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’ More than a half century ago, Dr. Borlaug surveyed a world where starvation and malnourishment were rampant.  And he had a vision – a vision of a Green Revolution. Because of that vision….because of Dr. Borlaug’s tireless commitment to that vision….the people did not perish.”

Benjamin Victor, a 35-year old sculptor from South Dakota, was one of 65 artists who competed for the privilege of creating the seven-foot tall statue. It took Victor two years to come up with the design and sculpt the clay model prior to the bronze being poured and the addition of finishing touches.

Borlaug, who died in 2009, is one of only seven people in history to win the Nobel Peace Prize and be awarded both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Tags: Benjamin Victor bronze statue Father of the Green Revolution John Boehner Norman Borlaug Tom Harkin Tom Vilsack


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