Norman Borlaug

Borlaug teaches at Texas A&M university where he is Distinguished Professor in the Soil and Crop Sciences Department. 

Through his work on breeding a high-yielding dwarf wheat, Borlaug became a key player in the Green Revolution, for which he was awarded a Nobel prize in 1970. Plants bred to increase yeilds when used in combination with chemical fertilizers proved highly effective in increasing food production.

Borlaug has always been an aggressive defender of intensive agriculture, once describing Rachel Carsen, the scientist whose book Silent Spring gave birth to the environmental movement, as 'an evil force'. (GM Foods - the art of public deception )

Borlaug is a keen supporter of the 'gene revolution' and of CS Prakash and his AgBioWorld Foundation. Like a number of key Prakash supporters, Borlaug serves on the board of directors of the American Council on Science and Health which crusades against 'health scares' and derives its funding from extensive corporate backing (e.g. Monsanto, Dow, Cyanamid).  

He sees the publication of research which raises concerns about this technology, like that of Dr John Losey on the effects of Bt corn pollen on monarch butterfly larvae, as symptomatic of the politicization of science, 'There's an element of Lysenkoism all tangled up with this pseudoscience and environmentalism. I like to remind my friends what pseudoscience and misinformation can do to destroy a nation.' (Billions served )

Borlaug's emphasis on technological solutions for increased production ignores the broader social context and economic realities that determine hunger. A third of the world's hungry live in India - a country which has a surfeit of food with which to feed its population; yet nutritional norms have actually worsened for those below the poverty line since the Green Revolution. Borlaug ackowledges the problem but offers no solution other than the fixation on high yield production, 'The problem is to get it into the stomachs of the hungry. There's a lack of purchasing power by too large a part of the population... The grain is there in the warehouses, but it doesn't find its way into the stomachs of the hungry.' (Billions served)

He also appears to have doubts about the ultimate efficacy of the 'gene revolution': 'Unless there is one master gene for yield, which I'm guessing there is not, engineering for yield will be very complex. It may happen eventually, but through the coming decades we must assume that gene engineering will not be the answer to the world's food problems.' (Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity, The Atlantic Online, January 1997 ).

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