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Date:

March 23, 2004

Subject:

JIMMY CARTER, GEORGE MCGOVERN AND SCIENTISTS CELEBRATE 'FATHER OF THE GREEN REVOLUTION'

 

JIMMY CARTER, GEORGE MCGOVERN AND SCIENTISTS CELEBRATE 'FATHER OF THE GREEN REVOLUTION'

"Humanitarian Norman Borlaug to Turn 90"

(PRESS CONTACT: DR. C.S. PRAKASH, PHONE + 1 334-444-7884)

Auburn, Alabama; March 24 -- Jimmy Carter, George McGovern and many scientists are joining the AgBioWorld Foundation in celebrating the 90th birthday of humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug tomorrow (March 25, 2004). "The passion that drives Dr. Borlaug's life is an inspiration for all of us to follow," said former US president Jimmy Carter. "It has been an honor to collaborate with Dr. Borlaug. He is a true humanitarian and a dear friend."

In 1970, Borlaug's dedication to agricultural productivity won him the Nobel Peace Prize. During the 1940s, Dr. Borlaug bred new wheat varieties in Mexico, which more than doubled the country's yields. Later, he worked in India, Pakistan, China, the Middle East, South America and Africa and had similar successes. The crop varieties and the improved farming practices he helped develop have sparked what is known today as the "Green Revolution." These improvements are often credited with saving more than one billion lives.

"Dr. Norman Borlaug was the father of the Green Revolution that transformed much of the hungry Third World," said former senator George McGovern. "Dr. Borlaug's scientific leadership not only saved people from starvation, but the high-yield seeds he bred saved millions of square miles of wildlife from being plowed down. He is one of the great men of our age."

"Norman Borlaug is the living embodiment of the human quest for a hunger free world," said M.S. Swaminathan of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in India (www.mssrf.org) and the scientist most responsible for bringing Borlaug to Asia. "His life is his message."

"Norman Borlaug is one of the greatest humanitarians who ever lived," said C.S. Prakash, president of the AgBioWorld Foundation (www.agbioworld.org) and professor of plant genetics at Tuskegee University in Alabama. "He is not only a scientist, but a doer and an activist who believes in the power of science to better the lives of people everywhere - especially in the developing world."

"Norman Borlaug's unrivalled contribution to humanity was his demonstration that genetics has a crucial role in enabling agricultural production to meet world food demand," observed Malcolm Elliott, Director of the UK-based Norman Borlaug Institute (www.nbipsr.org).

Despite his age, Borlaug currently serves as a senior consultant to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico and is the Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University. He is also President of the Sasakawa Africa Association, and, along with Jimmy Carter (www.cartercenter.org), is a leader of the Sasakawa-Global 2000 agricultural program in sub-Saharan Africa, which has worked with several million farmers in 15 countries of sub-Saharan Africa to increase food production.

Brief backgrounder on Borlaug is at http://www.agbioworld.org/biotech_info/topics/borlaug/life-of-borlaug.html

A rich collection of Borlaug-related quotes, articles, interviews,
speeches, photos and web links are currently available at http://www.agbioworld.org/biotech_info/topics/borlaug/borlaug.html

AgBioWorld is also releasing today "The Norman Borlaug Rap," an educational song honoring Dr. Borlaug's 90th birthday. Listen to it at http://www.agbioworld.org/biotech_info/topics/borlaug/borlaug-rap.html

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The following experts can be contacted by phone for more information
on the life and work of Dr. Borlaug:

-- Dr. Gurdev Khush, World Food Prize Laureate, USA (530-750-2440)
-- Dr. Thomas DeGregori, University of Houston, USA (713-743-3838)
-- Dr. Robert S. Zeigler, CIMMYT, Mexico (+52 55 5804-2004 ext.1312)
-- Prof. Greg Pence, University of Alabama, Birmingham, USA (205
873-0485)
-- Prof. Malcolm Elliott, Borlaug Institute, UK (+44 0116-2362733)
-- Mr. Dennis Avery (CGFI), USA (540-337-6354)
-- Mr. Ron Bailey, Science Correspondent, USA (202-256-6197)
-- Mr. Ted Behrens, Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation, USA
(319-277-0684)

The AgBioWorld Foundation (www.agbioworld.org) is a non-profit organization based in Auburn, Alabama that provides information to teachers, journalists, policymakers and the general public about developments in plant science, biotechnology and sustainable agriculture.
Email: agbioworld@yahoo.com

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The Life of Norman Borlaug

His accomplishments

Working in Mexico in the mid-1960s, Dr. Borlaug and his team developed a special breed of dwarf wheat that resisted a wide spectrum of plant pests and diseases and produced two to three times more grain than the traditional varieties.

Borlaug introduced this wheat to India and Pakistan, which, after years of drought, were on the verge of famine. Wheat production quadrupled in a decade; by today that increase is tenfold. By 1974 India was self-sufficient in the production of all cereals. Pakistan progressed from harvesting 3.4 million tons of wheat annually when Borlaug arrived to around 18 million today.

Dr. Borlaug subsequently introduced high-yield rice varieties that quickly spread the “Green Revolution” through most of Asia.

During the last 20 years, Dr. Borlaug has been involved in Sub-Saharan African programs to revolutionize farming. As a result of his efforts, yields have been at the worst double, nearly always triple, and sometimes quadruple what the traditional practices were producing.

His approach

Dr. Borlaug’s approach was different from that of many scientists and researchers in that it was very hands-on. His efforts to increase agricultural production usually involved the following process:

1. Develop the technology;

2. Deploy the technology, often working side-by-side with local farmers;

3. Encourage others - farmers, landowners, government officials - to adoptthe technology on a widespread basis.

His encouragement extends to the scientific arena, where he inspired other scientists to build upon the advances he made.

His legacy

This inspiration has led subsequent generations of scientists to focus on solving agricultural problems and providing solutions. Three current areas of interest benefit from and reflect Dr. Borlaug's legacy:

* Improved, higher yielding varieties of conventional seeds

* Biotechnology-improved varieties for better pest protection and stress tolerance

* Marker-assisted breeding technology to speed breeding and crop improvement

In particular, these technologies are helping to meet nutritional needs by providing more productive, nutritious and sustainable cropping systems.

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