WASHINGTON, DC–Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug will receive the nation’s highest civilian honor at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on July 17.
The Congressional Gold Medal will be presented to Borlaug by President George W. Bush and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. An original gold medal was created by the U.S. Mint to commemorate the honor.
Borlaug, now 93, is known as “the father of the Green Revolution” for his work in reducing world hunger. He is credited for saving more lives than any human in history. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 and remains the only person to receive that honor for work in agriculture.
The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress’ highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Past recipients include a wide range of people and institutions such as George Washington, Hubert Humphrey, Nelson Mandela and the American Red Cross.
In the early 1960s, Borlaug developed high yielding, disease resistant wheat plants and sent his personally trained army of hunger fighters to spread the technology to more than 20 nations.
“Through his improvement of wheat plants,” wrote the Nobel committee, “he has created a technological breakthrough which makes it possible to abolish hunger in the developing countries in the course of a few years.”
Less than a year after receiving the Nobel Prize he took on the environmental movement, warning that a ban on the pesticide DDT would cause widespread “disease and disaster” in developing countries.
“It would be helpful when you’re working on these problems to develop a skin as thick as a rhino’s hide, so you don’t feel all the darts,” Borlaug says. “Oh, there are lots of critics. If you don’t do anything you’ll never have critics.”
Borlaug earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at the University of Minnesota.
“Norman Borlaug’s work in developing high yield, disease resistant grains improved the lives of billions of people,” said Allen Levine, dean of the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, who will represent the university at the ceremony.
“We’re very proud to have him as an alumnus of our college, and happy that Congress saw fit to recognize him in this way.”–ENS
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on Borlaug’s career, visit: www.cfans.umn.edu/borlaug