Eleven years ago, the dawn of the new year also heralded a new century. The country freaked out a little about the whole Y2K thing (none of the computers will know what to do with the new date and whole systems will shut down), but it didn’t happen. And technically, the 21st century didn’t begin until Jan. 1, 2001.
Now, we’re wrapping up the first decade in this new century, we thought it was only fitting to look back at great contributors to the agricultural community we mourned this first decade. Some of them are nationally known names; others are perhaps not known nationally, but their impact goes well beyond their immediate community. The list is by no means complete, but includes individuals whose legacy will be with us for a long time.
Norman Borlaug, a science hero of the 20th century and often called the “Father of the Green Revolution,” lost his battle with cancer Sept. 12, 2009, at age 95.
Borlaug’s career was dedicated to using science to combat world hunger. He received the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for developing high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat used to prevent famine in developing countries throughout the world. In 2007, Borlaug received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor of the United States. This capped a string of major awards and honors throughout his scientific and humanitarian career.
After his research work in WWII, he became a scientist for the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program — a joint venture between the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican government, which began his life-long passion for international agriculture. In this program, he introduced scientific techniques for preventing famine in Mexico. He used the lessons learned in Mexico later to disprove 1960s doomsday predictions of mass famine throughout South and East Asia.
He was also passionate about training, mentoring and challenging young scientists, instilling in them the desire to teach and adopt science-based practices that increase the world’s food supply and thus serve mankind by leading to a more peaceful world.
To read about other important people lost in the agriculture community, check out these links:
James F. Cavanaugh