“Green” leader dies

Norman Borlaug, Nobel prizewinner and father of the Green Revolution, died Sept. 12 at the age of 95.

The agricultural scientist is credited with starting the Green Revolution in the 1940s when he worked to boost crop yields in Mexico, India and Asia when population growth began to outpace food production. Borlaug was credited with saving millions from starvation and won the Nobel Prize in 1970 for his efforts. Near the end of his life, Borlaug worked to ease hunger in Africa, but his plans were mired with infrastructural problems.

Though the headline for his obituary in the New York Times read “Greatest Human Being, R.I.P.”, and the title of his biography is The Man Who Fed the World, Borlaug had many critics, particularly among environmentalists.

The development of his short-stalk, disease-resistant wheat was the key to the Green Revolution—coined before the word “green” became synonymous with the environment. Critics say this led to the proliferation of genetically modified food, which has been blamed for a number of environmental and legal problems. Critics also say Borlaug’s methods require the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that are environmentally harmful.

Borlaug countered the disapproval by saying he had very few skinny critics.