As the world celebrates National Agriculture Day today, it will also celebrate the work of Norman Borlaug, Ph.D. The “Father of the Green Revolution,” who has been credited with saving billions of lives through his work using biotechnology to increase Mexican wheat yields, is being remembered today, his 100th birthday, in Washington, D.C., where a statue of Dr. Borlaug will be unveiled in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol.
Past United Soybean Board (USB) Chairman Chuck Myers interviewed Dr. Borlaug in 2009, just months before the Nobel laureate passed away. It’s believed to be Borlaug’s final interview.
Myers recently reflected on his time spent with Borlaug, one of only seven people to win the Nobel Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Q: What was it like to interview a Nobel Prize winner?
A: I was always in awe of Dr. Borlaug. The Green Revolution was talked about often while I was in college in the mid-1970s, and I always thought what Dr. Borlaug accomplished was amazing. To have the opportunity to meet him and talk to him about what he did to improve the lives of so many people by alleviating hunger through higher yields, it was one of the highlights of my time on USB.
I was so impressed by Dr. Borlaug when I met him. He was 95 at the time. When I met with him at his home in Dallas, he was such a gracious and dedicated man who still wanted to fight hunger. He fought it until his dying day, and that was such an inspiration.
Dr. Borlaug is very deserving of having a statue at the Capitol. All of the people represented there were great, and he deserves to be among them.
Q: What impact did Dr. Borlaug have on the world?
A: It’s been said many times that Dr. Borlaug probably saved more lives than anyone in history through the billions of people he helped by nearly tripling the yield of wheat. He tried to alleviate hunger throughout the world through his research of wheat and other crops. His impact on the world has been huge. It’s hard to imagine where we would be without his work.
Q: How are farmers carrying out Borlaug’s legacy now?
A: Farmers’ acceptance of biotechnology is helping carry out Dr. Borlaug’s legacy. He saw it as a tool to help improve yields and become a possible solution to problems around the world, such as insects, pests, droughts and anything else that can limit yields. Biotechnology can help solve those problems or at least alleviate them to a certain extent.
Q: Why do you feel biotechnology is important to a rapidly growing population?
A: Biotechnology is not a solution to all of our problems when it comes to feeding the hungry, but it is a very important tool that can be used in concert with other applications and ideas in order to produce more food. It offers future solutions not only to farmers in helping them do a better job in raising their crops, but also in improving what foods can deliver to consumers as far as being healthy.