Agricultural scientist Norman Borlaug, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in combating world hunger and saving hundreds of millions of lives, died Saturday in Texas, a Texas A&M University spokeswoman said. He was 95. By Matt Curry & Betsy Blaney at The Huffington Post
Borlaug died Saturday night at his home in Dallas from complications of cancer, school spokeswoman Kathleen Phillips said. Phillips said Borlaug's granddaughter told her about his death. Borlaug was a distinguished professor at the university in College Station.
The Nobel committee honored Borlaug in 1970 for his contributions to high-yield crop varieties and bringing other agricultural innovations to the developing world. Many experts credit Borlaug with averting global famine during the second half of the 20th century and saving perhaps 1 billion lives.
Thanks to Borlaug, world food production more than doubled between 1960 and 1990. In Pakistan and India, two of the nations that benefited most from the new crop varieties, grain yields more than quadrupled over the period.
"Norman E. Borlaug saved more lives than any man in human history," said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program. "His heart was as big as his brilliant mind, but it was his passion and compassion that moved the world."
Equal parts scientist and humanitarian, the Iowa-born Borlaug realized improved crop varieties were just part of the answer, and pressed governments for farmer-friendly economic policies and improved infrastructure to make markets accessible. A 2006 book about Borlaug is titled "The Man Who Fed the World."
"He has probably done more and is known by fewer people than anybody that has done that much," said Dr. Ed Runge, retired head of Texas A&M University's Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and a close friend who persuaded Borlaug teach at the school. "He made the world a better place – a much better place. He had people helping him, but he was the driving force."
Borlaug began the work that led to his Nobel in Mexico at the end of World War II. There he used innovative breeding techniques to produce disease-resistant varieties of wheat that produced much more grain than traditional strains.