Greatest Iowan Ever?

By Mike Chapman

Late Dr. Norman Borlaug earned Nobel Prize while feeding the world

“You can’t build world peace on empty stomachs and human misery,” said Dr. Norman Borlaug. He spent a lifetime working to alleviate both empty stomachs and human misery, and striving for world peace.

The man who came off an Iowa farm to become a world hero on an immense scale passed from the scene on September 12, 2009, at the age of 95. In the days that followed, the tributes paid to this native Iowan were on the highest level possible.

“Norman Borlaug grew up on a farm in Northeast Iowa but became famous around the world as the father of the Green Revolution, credited with saving perhaps a billion or more people from starvation,” read the front-page article in the Waterloo Courier the day after his passing.

“A story on the World Food Prize web site says native Iowan Norman Borlaug ‘saved more lives than anyone who ever lived,’” wrote Marc Hansen, columnist for the Des Moines Register on September 14. “From there, it isn’t much of a leap to ‘the greatest mortal to walk the face of the earth.’”

“The world is more peaceful and humane as a consequence of his work,” said the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation, a major force in the Green Revolution. It added that the Iowa native was “a force beyond measure.”

Iowa’s two long serving senators, Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin, were among the many offering tributes.

“Norm Borlaug never forgot his roots, right here in the cornfields of Iowa, and Iowans will never forget him,” said Senator Grassley in an AP story. “He will continue to inspire generations of scientists and farmers to innovate and lift those mired in poverty.”

Senator Harkin told the AP that “the way we farm and thus feed and fuel the world are a result of his influence. Though Dr. Borlaug is no longer with us, his vision for agriculture remains.”