In the 1960s, Borlaug turned his attention to South Asia. India and Pakistan were at war and facing unprecedented famine, with deaths forecast in the hundreds of millions. Indian tests of Borlaug's dwarf wheat seeds were promising, and he traveled there at the request of the Indian government to continue his wheat development program. Despite intense difficulties (including planting wheat under artillery flashes), Borlaug's research resulted in India and Pakistan doubling yields between 1962 and 1970. Both countries were self-sufficient in grain by 1974, and the expected tidal wave of famine deaths had been avoided.
Africa was next on Borlaug's agenda, but by the 1980s he started to face intense opposition from Western environmental groups. Despite his record of success in averting starvation, they opposed his 'Green Revolution' scientific methods -- the use of cross breeding, hybridization, inorganic fertilizer -- as 'unnatural.' Some complained the intensive farming techniques he introduced was displacing traditional subsistence farming, as if starvation by native methods were somehow beautiful and noble. Borlaug would later have be blunt words for these critics:
"many [environmental lobbyists] are elitists. They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things."
Pop’s side of the family shares the same stout but humble Midwest agrarian stock as Norman Bourlag who some estimate saved as many as a billion lives with his work on dwarf wheat, cross-breading and hybridization.
Bourlag passed away this past Saturday at the age of 95.
The ‘Hawk has more here on this true American and world-wide hero.
The next time you read or hear of the devastating effects of America's alleged neo-imperialism or neo-colonialism please keep the memory of Norman Bourlag in your back pocket, won't ya?