* Fight Droughts With Science
* Egypt denies banning GM imports: state agency
* The issue of contradictory results of biosafety studies
* Do Seed Companies Control GM Crop Research?
* A SEED IS PLANTED: New Dialogue on Independent Seed Research
* Africa's biotechnology battle
* Dr. Pamela Ronald Talks about GM Food Labeling
* Legislation to designate Borlaug home as National Historic Site
* Obituary: Craig Winters (RIP)
Fight Droughts With Science
- Henry I. Miller, The Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2009
‘Better crops could ease India's monsoon worries”
News that India may suffer a weaker-than-normal monsoon this year is raising concerns about crop yields and food supply. As worrying as those reports are, however, this is only a short-term element of a much bigger problem with the availability of water there. Even when the rains do come, India's water usage still will be at unsustainable levels. Better crop plants that use water more efficiently could be a big part of the solution---if only bureaucrats and activists would get out of the way.
Irrigation for agriculture accounts for roughly 70% of the world's fresh water consumption, but that figure can be higher in some places, depending on crop types and local hydrological conditions. India, for instance, is the world's second-largest producer of cotton, the thirstiest of crops: It takes 11,000 liters of water to produce a single kilogram. In just one example of the consequences, consumption from irrigation and other human uses is depleting groundwater in the northwestern part of India at the unsustainable rate of four centimeters per year despite consistent rainfall levels, according to an article published this week in the British journal Nature.
The results of this research should get policy makers to focus on how water is being used, especially in India's agricultural sector. The introduction of plants that grow with less water would allow more to be freed up for other uses. Plant biologists have identified genes regulating water utilization that can be transferred into important crop plants. Some modifications allow plants to grow with less or lower-quality water. The first drought-resistant crop, maize, is expected to be commercialized by 2012. If field testing goes well, India would be a potential market for this variety.
Pest- and disease-resistant strains also indirectly help water efficiency. Because much of the loss to insects and diseases occurs after the plants are fully grown--that is, after most of the water required to grow a crop has already been applied---the use of crop varieties that experience lower post-harvest losses in yield means that the farming and irrigation of fewer plants can produce the same total amount of food. More than 13 million farmers in at least 25 countries already are using genetically modified crop varieties to produce higher yields with lower inputs and reduced impact on the environment. In 2008, India ranked fourth in the world (behind the United States, Argentina and Brazil) in cultivation of genetically modified crops, with 7.6 million hectares.
But research and development are being hampered by resistance from activists and discouraged by governmental overregulation. There are more than a dozen vocal and radical activist groups---of which Greenpeace is the prototype---around the world opposed to this kind of technology. They have concocted tales in developing countries about genetically modified crops causing homosexuality, impotence, illnesses like HIV/AIDS, and even baldness. One of the most vocal activists is Delhi-based Vandana Shiva, who denies not only the manifest benefits and potential of genetically modified crops, but even derides the 20th century's stellar Green Revolution as having inflicted violence on the environment. She claims that genetically modified crop technology is untested, unproven and unsafe---all of which are demonstrably untrue.
This pressure both encourages overregulation in response to questionable science and also offers cover to those who want to overregulate these crops for other reasons. The United Nations agency that sets international food standards, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, has established requirements for data on genetic construction, composition, toxicity, and the like specific to genetically modified foods that are hugely expensive---and that could not be met by any food derived from conventionally modified plants. In addition the Cartagena "biosafety protocol," crafted under the aegis of the United Nations' Convention on Biological Diversity, has created unscientific and burdensome regulations of field trials and transport of genetically modified organisms (but not of other conventional plants such as invasive vines or weedy grasses that are far more worrisome). The United States has not ratified this convention.
Meanwhile, governments interested in protecting their agricultural sectors from foreign competition are all too happy to use spurious fears over genetically modified crops to erect trade barriers. Witness the European Union's unscientific, protectionist restrictions on the import of genetically modified agricultural products. This, as much as any other U.N. regulation, effectively discourages the use of these technologies.
A study by Professor David Zilberman at the University of California at Berkeley dates the worldwide slowdown in the development pipeline to the EU's 1998 ban on genetically modified products.
The U.N.'s misadventures in regulation fly in the face of the quarter-century-old scientific consensus that modern genetic modification is essentially an extension or refinement of conventional (but less precise and less predictable) ways of modifying crops to create or enhance desirable characteristics.
The U.N.'s inconsistency is striking. The Food and Agriculture Organization calls for a greater allocation of resources to agriculture, but then makes those resources drastically less cost-effective via unnecessary, unscientific regulation of genetically modified plants. The Secretary-General of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization announces that "integrated water-resources management is the key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals of securing access to safe water, sanitation and environmental protection," while an alphabet soup of other U.N. agencies is making virtually impossible the development of crops that can grow with low-quality water or under drought conditions.
By compromising commerce and the quality of life, water scarcity has the potential to destabilize industrialized and developing countries alike. Scarcity hinders economic development; excessive water extraction lowers ground levels and exacerbates rising sea levels; and poor water quality makes populations vulnerable to water-related diseases, such as cholera, dysentery, viral hepatitis A and typhoid. Especially during drought conditions---which currently afflict much of Europe, Africa, Australia, South America and the U.S.---even a small percentage reduction in the use of water for irrigation could result in huge benefits, both economic and humanitarian.
Some of the planet's biggest drought fears may be in India today, but no one will be immune to water worries in the future. It's essential that bureaucrats and activists stop blocking agricultural technologies that can give us more crop for the drop.
Dr. Miller is a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and author of "The Frankenfood Myth" (Praeger, 2004).
Egypt denies banning GM imports: state agency
- AFP, August 12, 2009
Egypt's state news agency MENA on Thursday quoted an agriculture ministry official as denying an earlier report that Cairo had banned the import and export of genetically modified crops.
The unnamed official was quoted as saying "reports published by some newspapers and foreign press agencies-are not true."
On Wednesday, MENA reported that Agriculture Minister Amin Abaza had given instructions that all crop imports to the country, especially wheat, corn and soya bean shipments, must be certified free of GM products.
Egypt is the most populous Arab country and one of the world's largest wheat importers. Last year, Cairo approved the cultivation of genetically modified corn.
The issue of contradictory results of biosafety studies
"No single study should be taken too seriously until other studies have confirmed the findings."
The results of biosafety studies on GM crops are often controversially discussed in public debates. Some studies even provide a contradictory picture of the safety of products such as Bt maize. More importantly, results of such studies are used for the justification of political decisions. For example, the cultivation of the genetically modified MON810 maize was banned in Germany in April 2009, mainly substantiated with two new studies that claim to show that MON810 poses a risk to two-spotted ladybirds and water-fleas, however these studies were scientifically controversial. Similarly justified bans were enacted in Luxembourg, Greece and Austria. In contrast, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently confirmed its positive assessment of MON810 maize and concluded that non-target organisms, such as insects and water-dwelling organisms, are not at risk.
Michelle Marvier is an Associate Professor at the Environmental Studies Institute, Santa Clara University (USA). Her research is focused on two issues: the ecological risk assessment applied to genetically engineered crops and the conservation of biological diversity. She conducted two renowned meta-analyses on the environmental impact of Bt crops (effects of Bt Cotton and Maize on non-target invertebrates and in particular on honey bees).
Michelle Marvier from Santa Clara University (USA) illuminates the reasons for conflicting study results and new approaches on how to manage such uncertainties and to improve the significance of biosafety research results. She is promoting large open-access databases for biosafety studies and the application of meta-analyses. Such meta-analyses use the results of numerous studies to get a statistically more reliable picture of the environmental impact of GM crops.
GMO Compass: What is your personal motivation to conduct research on the environmental effects of GM crops?
Michelle Marvier: I have always loved growing vegetables in my home garden, and I'm interested in food production and the environmental impacts of agriculture, in general. As a graduate student, I worked on several agroecology projects, sampling beneficial insects in cotton, strawberries, and cabbage. I also really enjoy thinking about experimental design and statistical analysis. So, that combination of interests led me to look a bit more critically at the experiments being used to study potential risks of GM crops.
GMO Compass: Scientific studies seem often to be contradictory. One study reveals that a certain GM crop is harming a non-target organism, another study excludes this. How does this happen? Is this caused by flawed science and inappropriate statistics or by biased researchers?
Michelle Marvier: Actually, given the small sample sizes and high variation that characterize these types of risk assessment studies, it's not surprising at all that different studies yield contradictory results. Many of the studies that have been conducted to look at risk for non-target organisms are "weak." What I mean is this - in the lab, the number of animals exposed to the treatments is typically small and in the field, relatively few plots or fields are used. In contrast, think of a drug trial. When a pharmaceutical company is looking to see whether a drug has side effects, they conduct studies involving hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people. But for GM crops, the studies might involve just a handful of insects or field plots. When studies have low replication, the results are more likely to reflect chance outcomes. So, given this, it should be expected that some studies might show a negative effect and others a positive effect.
GMO Compass: What were the topics and outcomes of your meta-analyses?
Michelle Marvier: A meta-analysis of field studies found that Bt crops are generally more benign for non-target invertebrates than insecticides. A second meta-analysis of lab studies found no harmful effects of Cry proteins - the toxins produced by Bt crop - for honey bees.
GMO Compass: What is the reaction of the biosafety community to your work? Are meta-analyses the new "golden standard" for the safety assessment of transgenic organisms?
Michelle Marvier: Generally the reaction has been quite positive. Of course, the results of our meta-analyses suggest that Bt crops are relatively benign for non-target invertebrates. I'm not sure if the response would have been as warm if our analyses had revealed harmful effects. I would hope that the approach and the findings would be welcomed regardless of which way the findings turned out, but this is a contentious arena and people have some very strong opinions on the subject.
Read on at
Do Seed Companies Control GM Crop Research?
-Editors, Scientific American Magazine╩-╩ August 13, 2009 http://www.scientificamerican.com/
Scientists must ask corporations for permission before publishing independent research on genetically modified crops. That restriction must end
Advances in agricultural technology---including, but not limited to, the genetic modification of food crops---have made fields more productive than ever. Farmers grow more crops and feed more people using less land. They are able to use fewer pesticides and to reduce the amount of tilling that leads to erosion. And within the next two years, agritech companies plan to introduce advanced crops that are designed to survive heat waves and droughts, resilient characteristics that will become increasingly important in a world marked by a changing climate.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised. That is because agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers.
To purchase genetically modified seeds, a customer must sign an agreement that limits what can be done with them. (If you have installed software recently, you will recognize the concept of the end-user agreement.) Agreements are considered necessary to protect a company╒s intellectual property, and they justifiably preclude the replication of the genetic enhancements that make the seeds unique. But agritech companies such as Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta go further. For a decade their user agreements have explicitly forbidden the use of the seeds for any independent research. Under the threat of litigation, scientists cannot test a seed to explore the different conditions under which it thrives or fails. They cannot compare seeds from one company against those from another company. And perhaps most important, they cannot examine whether the genetically modified crops lead to unintended environmental side effects.
Research on genetically modified seeds is still published, of course. But only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal. In a number of cases, experiments that had the implicit go-ahead from the seed company were later blocked from publication because the results were not flattering. “It is important to understand that it is not always simply a matter of blanket denial of all research requests, which is bad enough, wrote Elson J. Shields, an entomologist at Cornell University, in a letter to an official at the Environmental Protection Agency (the body tasked with regulating the environmental consequences of genetically modified crops), but selective denials and permissions based on industry perceptions of how friendly or hostile a particular scientist may be toward [seed-enhancement] technology
Shields is the spokesperson for a group of 24 corn insect scientists that opposes these practices. Because the scientists rely on the cooperation of the companies for their research they must, after all, gain access to the seeds for studies most have chosen to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. The group has submitted a statement to the EPA protesting that as a result of restricted access, no truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions regarding the technology.
It would be chilling enough if any other type of company were able to prevent independent researchers from testing its wares and reporting what they find imagine car companies trying to quash head-to-head model comparisons done by Consumer Reports, for example. But when scientists are prevented from examining the raw ingredients in our nation’s food supply or from testing the plant material that covers a large portion of the country’s agricultural land, the restrictions on free inquiry become dangerous.
Although we appreciate the need to protect the intellectual property rights that have spurred the investments into research and development that have led to agritech╒s successes, we also believe food safety and environmental protection depend on making plant products available to regular scientific scrutiny. Agricultural technology companies should therefore immediately remove the restriction on research from their end-user agreements. Going forward, the EPA should also require, as a condition of approving the sale of new seeds, that independent researchers have unfettered access to all products currently on the market. The agricultural revolution is too important to keep locked behind closed doors.
Note: This article was originally printed with the title, "A Seedy Practice."
A SEED IS PLANTED: New Dialogue Makes Significant Progress in Addressing Independent Seed Research
- Seed E-News, American Seed Trade Association, http://www.amseed.org/
Significant progress and alignment was achieved by the 27 representatives from the research community and the seed industry who met on June 30, 2009, in Ames, Iowa, to discuss research on commercial, patent-protected seed products and opportunities to improve the process overall.
Agricultural biotechnology has brought tremendous innovation to the seed industry. A system of regulatory oversight and mechanisms to protect intellectual property has evolved along with the development and commercialization of patent-protected seed products.╩ For this reason, commercial purchases of biotech seed, such as by farmers, requires an accompanying agreement to meet environmental stewardship needs and regulations.
Agronomic studies by public sector scientists on commercially available seed have been and are routinely being conducted, and biotechnology companies provide researchers with access to this seed. Although companies support hundreds of research studies annually, procedures to enable this work have not always been as clear or straight forward as possible and can vary from company to company. Further, these processes are not always transparent within the university systems themselves, often creating an additional layer of challenges for the scientists in meeting their research goals.
╩As a result, earlier this year, some public sector researchers voiced the challenges they face in conducting research on commercially available seed with patent-protected traits. When these concerns were brought to the attention of two trade associations representing the seed industry and the agricultural biotechnology industry, the American Seed Trade Association and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (otherwise known as ASTA and BIO), a meeting was proposed with the research community to better understand, discuss and address the points raised by the researchers.
The June 30 meeting brought together the appropriate industry representatives and members of the public sector research community around the same table to work toward a more harmonized and transparent approach to collaboration.╩ Through this dialogue, both sides were able to gain insight into the others' concerns, address some misunderstandings and bring a sense of clarity and direction for public sector research with commercial, patent-protected seed products. The dialogue identified opportunities that will help improve the overall process.
The key to this significant progress was the seed industry's commitment to a set of principles supporting public sector research on commercially available, patent-protected seed products. The goal of the principles is to enable the public sector research community to conduct independent research on commercially available seed products for the purpose of understanding the technology, education, extension and the safe and effective use of these products. The principles also recognize that the public sector research community is free to design robust, scientifically sound experimental protocols and methodologies, as well as to derive independent conclusions.
Companies will facilitate these institutions' access to commercial, licensed technologies in a way that continues to assure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, respect for intellectual property and use of comprehensive stewardship programs that promote the responsible and safe management of these commercially available products.
In addition, the principles commit to a regular and ongoing dialogue between the seed industry and the public sector researchers and institutions.
A final version of the principles will be presented at the ASTA's Executive Committee of the Board of Directors on Sept. 17 and at BIO's Food and Agriculture Section Governing Board Sept. 10 for approval and adoption. Although every company must determine independently the terms under which it will implement these principles, they demonstrate the commitment of the seed and biotechnology industries to public sector research.
"Although the 'devil is in the details,' we'll have to see how each company implements the principles. However, it was reassuring to see that the seed industry is taking public researchers' concerns seriously and has made tremendous progress in developing consensus on a set of principles in support of public research," said Ken Ostlie, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota.
The collaborative group is exploring plans for the next meeting to foster an ongoing dialogue and fulfill the mission to support the public good through broad-based laboratory and field research programs, educational outreach, continued pursuit of knowledge using controlled and rigorous experiments, and publication in scientific and popular literature.
"I went into the meeting hopeful, but also somewhat skeptical. Although I'm still a little wary, the seed companies represented at the meeting seem committed to solving the problems we discussed. They certainly can be solved, and I'm cautiously optimistic they will be," said one researcher in attendance of the Ames meeting. "In the end, we had a substantive discussion. If the draft principles we saw are adopted and acted on in the spirit in which they were presented, they will definitely take us in the right direction. Anticipated agreements based on the principles should functionally provide us with the freedom to conduct independent research on commercially available seed and to report our findings, whatever they may be,╩without interference."
"The seed industry continues to be strongly committed to supporting research by public sector scientists," responded ASTA President and CEO Andy LaVigne. "This research ensures agricultural technologies are used responsibly in the environment, deliver value to growers, and provide food, feed, fiber and fuel for a growing world."╩
Africa's biotechnology battle
- Ian Scoones & Dominic Glover, 2 Nature 460, 797-798 (13 August 2009
An influential book accuses Europe of keeping genetically modified crops out of Africa, but, by polarizing the debate, it undermines efforts to improve the continent's agriculture, warn Ian Scoones and Dominic Glover.
“BOOK REVIEWED-Starved for Science: How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa by Robert Paarlberg; Harvard University Press: 2008. 256 pp. $24.95 (hbk), $16.95 (pbk”
Starved for Science is a troubling polemic. Political scientist Robert Paarlberg argues that genetically modified (GM) crops could solve Africa's hunger and poverty, but that, through inadequate investment, external lobbying and stringent regulations, farmers are being deprived of the technology and prevented from achieving agricultural success. He lays the blame largely with European governments and non-governmental organizations for trying to foist their affluent values and precautionary sensibilities on Africa's poor.
The book has quickly become influential.
Paarlberg was asked to speak about hunger alleviation in front of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The book's arguments were repeated in a major policy speech by Nina Fedoroff, science and technology adviser both to the US Secretary of State and to the administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Economist Paul Collier of the University of Oxford, UK, praised it in an article in the journal Foreign Affairs, and British peer Dick Taverne described it in a House of Lords debate as one of the most important books he had read in years.
But Paarlberg's account is one-sided. Just as the heated debate about GM crops had settled around a position that recognizes they can be useful in some circumstances yet are not a panacea, this book unhelpfully polarizes the matter once more.
Large parts of Starved for Science are uncontroversial. Paarlberg is correct in saying that there has been long-term underinvestment in African agriculture, especially in scientific research and technology development. And few would dispute that funding agricultural research offers high returns and is a key weapon in the fight against poverty and hunger. That such arguments have been ignored by policy-makers and aid programmes is also well recognized.
Where we take issue with the book is its explicit assertion that the only kind of science-based agriculture worth investing in is founded on biotechnology, and on genetic engineering in particular. In its narrow focus, Starved for Science dismisses a slew of scientifically validated approaches to agriculture, including integrated pest and soil-fertility management, 'low-input' techniques that reduce reliance on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and even other forms of biotechnology. Yet such methods have performed well in African contexts (J. N. Pretty et al. Environ. Sci. Technol. 40, 1114╨1119; 2006).
Paarlberg's book reduces the vast and varied continent and its farmers to a series of gloomy generalizations. But a detailed look at the data reveals numerous successes. For example, in northern and western Africa, agricultural production per capita increased by more than 40% between 1981╨83 and 2003╨05, and total output value increased by an amount equal to that seen in Asia after the 1960s Green Revolution (see http://tinyurl.com/lgkosx). Another success is that of smallholder farmers who produce hybrid maize in Zimbabwe and Kenya and cassava and cotton in West Africa (see http://tinyurl.com/mhaebb). Results can seem mixed overall because each technology must perform within a particular social, economic, institutional and market setting.
Paarlberg also pays too little attention to the substantial efforts that have got under way recently in Africa. International donors have, for example, lent their support to two important strategic initiatives for agriculture: the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and the African Union's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme. Meanwhile, agricultural biotechnology has received significant backing from within Africa itself --- including a thoughtful assessment from the African Union's high-level panel on biotechnology (see http://tinyurl.com/lnc46j). GM crop research is also under way in countries as diverse as South Africa, Burkina Faso and Malawi.
Paarlberg argues that GM crops are being "kept out" of Africa because European lobby groups have forced the imposition of "stifling regulations" based on "extreme precaution". His roll-call of bad guys is long, from Food First, Greenpeace and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, to the United Nations and the Ford Foundation. All are blamed for preventing a "science-based escape from rural poverty".
In fact, the pro-GM lobby has been every bit as active, bombarding decision-makers and media organizations with slick marketing materials and free trips to their corporate headquarters. The US government has sponsored schemes in Africa that provide biosafety training programmes for regulators and that promote model legal frameworks. Such projects include the US Foreign Agriculture Service's scientific exchange programmes and the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project, part of the USAID Collaborative Agriculture Biotechnology Initiative.
Paarlberg's claim that external, anti-GM views have been the main influence on decision-making by national governments in Africa is not substantiated. Instead, international players on both sides of the GM debate have fought a fierce tug-of-war over policy, with African regulators and policy-makers often left as unwilling bystanders.
Meanwhile, on the ground, detailed, site-specific evidence on the performance of GM technologies indicates that a farmer's ability to reap the potential benefits depends on a range of technical, agronomic and institutional factors (see http://tinyurl.com/ksbfxo and http://tinyurl.com/krmzxu). For instance, the transgenic trait needs to be available in crop varieties that can perform in constrained environments. A good yield depends heavily on favourable soils and irrigation, which the poorest farmers typically lack. As the experiences of smallholder Bt-cotton farmers in South Africa have demonstrated, GM crop technology also needs to be supported by infrastructure and institutions if it is to benefit the poorest people.
These findings are in contrast to the triumphalism of reports that show the spread of GM crops around the world, such as that released annually by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications. Studied closely, the 2008 report shows that only 8 of the 25 countries that grew GM crops planted more than a million hectares. Almost 80% of the global GM crop of 125 million hectares was grown in just three countries: 62.5 million hectares in the United States, 21 million hectares in Argentina and almost 16 million hectares in Brazil. Moreover, the GM crops that have been commercialized to date are mostly insect-resistant Bt varieties of maize and cotton and herbicide-tolerant varieties of soya bean, designed for and mainly used by large-scale commercial farmers.
African agricultural policy-makers have some difficult decisions to make. Biotechnology will surely be part of the mix of approaches required for the future, as indicated both in the World Bank's 2008 World Development Report on agriculture and in the 2008 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development. But big uncertainties remain --- including how farmers will gain access to markets where GM products are currently restricted and the potential risks of GM technologies to the environment or health. An informed 'wait-and-see' stance thus makes sense.
What of the future? One of the pivotal arguments in Starved for Science is that promising pipeline technologies and longer-term research are also being held back. To make his case, Paarlberg cites the effort to develop drought-tolerant GM maize, a major programme of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, it is working with a range of public and private research and development organizations. This broad initiative involves conventional breeding, genomics applications and genetic-marker-based selection as well as genetic modification. Yet Paarlberg zeroes in on the GM solution, maintaining that this is where the necessary breakthroughs will happen.
Blue-skies research into future agricultural techniques is essential. But inflating expectations has major downsides. As occurred with medical biotechnology, hype can distort innovation. It diverts funds from other research and narrows the focus of study to genetics rather than taking into account the wider environmental, behavioural and synergistic dynamics (P. Nightingale and P. Martin Trends Biotechnol. 22, 546╨569; 2004). A similar process will occur in agricultural science unless we retain a balanced perspective of the options available.
A dogmatic and unscientific stance on GM crops --- whether for or against --- helps no one, least of all African farmers. A more evidence-based approach than Paarlberg's is needed --- one that should foster diverse development pathways for agriculture underpinned by high-quality scientific research and attuned to particular circumstances.
For additional references, see http://tinyurl.com/lfp2x3
Dr. Pamela Ronald Talks about GM Food Labeling
Pamela Ronald explores the controversy surrounding labeling genetically modified food. She calls the current system of labeling "complete marketing
Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2009/07/28/P.
Iowa Senators Grassley and Harkin introduce legislation to designate Borlaug home National Historic Site
August 4, 2009 - - Iowa's two U.S. Senators, Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin, have introduced legislation to declare the birthplace and childhood home of World Food Prize founder Norman Borlaug as a National Historic Site.
Senators Grassley and Harkin released the following statement on the legislation:
Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin have introduced legislation to designate the birthplace and childhood home of Dr. Norman Borlaug as a National Historic Site. The home is located near Cresco.
The legislation says that upon donation of the Norman Borlaug birthplace and the Norman Borlaug childhood home to the National Park Service, it will become a unit of the National Park System and be designated the ╘Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Birthplace and Home National Historic Site.╒╙
Dr. Borlaug and his work to save the lives of hundreds of millions people are historically significant for Iowa,╙ Grassley said. By designating his birthplace and boyhood home a National Historic Site, we╒ll be preserving his legacy for years to come and continuing to inspire future generations of scientists and farmers to innovate and lift those mired in poverty.╙
Dr. Borlaug epitomizes values Iowans hold dear ╨ ingenuity, determination, and a commitment to helping others. His life is a perfect illustration of the fact that one person really can make a difference. All Iowans can take pride in and draw inspiration from the extraordinary life of Dr. Norman Borlaug,╙ said Harkin. The Norman Borlaug Birthplace and Home National Historic Site bill is a fitting tribute to a man who has done so much to improve the lives of millions of people throughout the world.╙
Borlaug grew up in rural Cresco and attended the University of Minnesota where he received his bachelor's, masters and Ph.D. He worked in Forestry and Microbiology before he started his work developing crops that increased yields and resisted disease.
Advancements he developed in crop production helped Borlaug become known as the "Father of the Green Revolution." The Green Revolution was a time when drastically increased crop yields over a short period of years helped alleviate world hunger. It is said that Borlaug saved more lives than any other person in history.
Borlaug is one of five people to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. The other four recipients are Nelson Mandela, Elie Wiesel, Mother Teresa and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Biill at http://www.theorator.com/bills110/text/s2590.html
Obituary: Craig Winters