Dignitaries, ELCA Pastor to Memorialize Norman Borlaug, Nobel Prize Winner

9/25/2009 12:00:00 AM

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Leaders in government and from international
organizations will deliver eulogies at an Oct. 6 memorial service for
Dr. Norman Borlaug, 95, a prominent agricultural scientist and 1970 Nobel
Peace Prize winner, who died Sept. 12 in Dallas from complications
related to cancer.
     The Rev. David A. Beckmann, president of Bread for the World,
Washington, D.C., and a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America (ELCA), will preside at Borlaug's memorial at Texas A&M
University, College Station, Texas.
     A lifelong Lutheran, Borlaug was known as the father of the "Green
Revolution" for improving crop production throughout the world,
particularly in Central and South America, Africa and Asia.  He developed
high-yielding wheat varieties, credited with reducing famine. "His work
saved hundreds of millions of lives, and today half the world eats grains
descended from his plants," TIME magazine reported Sept. 28.
     Eulogists at Borlaug's memorial will be Dr. Robert M. Gates, U.S.
Secretary of Defense and former president of Texas A&M; Tom Vilsack, U.S.
Secretary of Agriculture; M.S. Swaminathan, member of the Indian
Parliament; and Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of the Nippon Foundation, who
worked with Borlaug to fight hunger in Africa. A scholars symposium
honoring Borlaug's work will follow the memorial service.
     Born in Saude, Iowa, in 1914, Borlaug was raised and baptized in the
Lutheran church, though he wasn't particularly active in the church
during his adult years because of the demands of his career. "He was in
the field -- that was his church," said granddaughter Julie Borlaug, in
an interview with the ELCA News Service.  She is external relations
manager, Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, Texas
A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  The institute opened in
     Norman Borlaug, received bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees
from the University of Minnesota, and worked in industrial and
agricultural chemical research during World War II.  After the war he
became a scientist for the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production
Program, beginning his career in international agriculture, according to
a Texas A&M news release.  During that time he introduced scientific
techniques for preventing famine in Mexico.  He also brought into the
program promising young scientists, known as "Borlaug interns,"
instrumental in implementing the Green Revolution and who helped improve
global wheat production.
     Because of his work in wheat production, India and Pakistan today
can produce enough food to feed their people, Julie Borlaug said. Norman
Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "recognizing that
agricultural productivity has a pivotal role in creating stability and
preventing conflict," the university release said.
     In 1984 Borlaug was named Texas A&M Distinguished Professor of
International Agriculture, where he taught and conducted research until
his death.  Borlaug created the World Food Prize in 1986 to recognize the
work of scientists and humanitarians who have contributed to advancing
international agriculture and fighting world hunger.
     "His belief was: 'There can't be peace with empty stomachs,'" she
said. "His real calling was humanity.  He couldn't bear that people were
starving."  Julie Borlaug added that her grandfather always felt his work
was not finished, particularly in Africa.
     Beckmann said Norman Borlaug was a board member for Bread for the
World in the early days of the organization.  Through the years, Beckmann
said he and Borlaug talked about their Lutheran faith.
     "His driving conviction was that 'we ought to do good in the world.
We can feed the hungry by applying the best technology to agriculture,'"
Beckmann said in an interview. "He got the connection between his faith
and his commitment to his work. He showed that world hunger is a problem
we can solve."
     Until recently, Borlaug traveled internationally working for
improvements in agricultural science and food policy.  He worked while he
was sick, writing letters to Congress, urging more funding for
agricultural programs, Beckmann said.  Borlaug believed biotechnology
offered real hope to the world, he said, adding that "he was as much an
advocate as he was a scientist."
     Besides winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Borlaug received several
honors during his career. Among them were:
+ election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, 1970 and nine
foreign academies
+ Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1977
+ Distinguished Achievement Award in Food and Agricultural Sciences,
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, 1982
+ Public Welfare Medal, National Academy of Sciences, 2002
+ Rotary International Award for World Understanding and Peace,
Barcelona, Spain, 2002
+ National Medal of Science, 2004
+ Congressional Gold Medal, 2006
     In addition, Borlaug was honored by the governments of Mexico, El
Salvador and India, plus agricultural organizations in India and Russia.
He was awarded more than 50 honorary degrees.
     Borlaug was preceded in death by his wife, Margaret. Survivors
include daughter Jeanie Borlaug Laube and her husband Rex, and son
William Gibson Borlaug and his wife Barbie: five grandchildren and six
     Upon Borlaug's death, his children stated: "We would like his life
be a model for making a difference in the lives of others and to bring
about efforts to end human misery for all mankind."
     Information about Norman Borlaug's life is at
http://borlaug.tamu.edu/ on the Web.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or news@elca.org
ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog


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