Tributes on the passing of Norman Borlaug

by CynthiaYockey on September 17, 2009

It may take me awhile to gather up all the links I want to have in this post as a tribute to Norman Borlaug — Iowahawk has the most touching description of Borlaug’s life:

Norman Borlaug died Saturday [9/12/09] at 95, leaving a humanitarian legacy equaled by few in history. By some estimates his life’s work saved over a billion human beings from starvation. That life work was farming, and it took him from a 106 acre spread outside Cresco to grain fields around the planet.

I didn’t know about Dr. Borlaug until he died. But I would like to mark his passing here for a few reasons. First, his accomplishments were noble and opposed by liberal ideologues who called themselves “progressives,” yet collectively oppose progress like the improvements in plant breeding and farming techniques that Dr. Borlaug developed that allowed Third World nations to avert famine and save their economies by becoming self-sufficient in their food production.

Second, because I want to ask if there any research has been done in the U.S. to see what the requirements are for the U.S. to be self-sufficient in food production and have food to export — is there a minimum amount of land, for example, that we need to reserve for food production and protect from development?

Third, the Democratic Congress enacted legislation a few months ago that requires so much testing for plant illnesses from seed sellers that it will run heirloom and small seed companies out of business and wipe out the U.S. as the last great repository of seed diversity in the world. (I have to look up the links for this.)

My interest in this is that my grandparents on both sides were farmers — on my father’s side, Iowa farmers — and I love to grow heirloom tomatoes, patty pans squash and herbs, such as basil, parsley and oregano. Wiping out the small seed companies, non-profits and individuals who are guarding the genetic diversity of our seed supply is a form of cultural suicide.

I will add more tributes as I find them.

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  • I R A Darth Aggie

    is there a minimum amount of land, for example, that we need to reserve for food production and protect from development?

    I’m sure there is, given a certain population. But we haven’t hit it yet. In addition to feeding ourselves, and a sizable export product, we have enough to waste producing corn to make ethanol from and call it “fuel”.

    But don’t get me started on that. While good for farmers, turning corn into fuel isn’t the best use of resources. Once we can reliably turn native Plain grasses into fuel, then we’ll have something worth talking about.

  • I, too, did not know about Mr. Borlaug until his death. I was a child during the height of his career, so I suppose that’s why.

    If you like to grow herbs, I strongly recommend adding some lemonthyme to your garden. Not only is it wonderful in salad dressings and on fish, it’s a very pretty, very aromatic plant.
    .-= Lynne´s last blog ..Woodburn Recovering from Bomb Blast =-.

  • I knew about Dr. Borlaug, he was in the Reader’s Digest and Farm Journal Mags I’d read in waiting rooms and suchlike places.

    As far as how much land to feed a given population? It’s about to go way, way up. You have, of course, heard that they have turned off the water to much of Central California’s Central Valley, turning that farmland into desert. Oddly, it’s becoming desert because the water that onced flowed in the rivers is now going to LA and San Francisco and Sacramento for all of those urban environment experts.

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