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Senator Bond Senate Floor Statement on Norman Borlaug

US Senate
March 22, 2004

Mr. President, it is my distinct privilege to rise today to pay special tribute to the one of the world's foremost physiologists, Dr. Norman Borlaug. Dr. Borlaug is widely credited as the father of the 1960s Green Revolution, a movement that has continued to cure hundreds of millions of people around the globe from starvation. It is very likely that Dr. Borlaug is directly responsible for saving more lives than anyone else in the twentieth century.

Born in Cresco, IA on March 25, 1914, Dr. Borlaug was raised on livestock farm before attending the University of Minnesota as a biology student and a member of the University's wrestling team. After graduation, in addition to being inducted to the University's Hall of Fame for his wrestling record, Dr. Borlaug carefully balanced teaching while successfully working on the development of several new strains of disease-resistant wheat. The new strand of wheat went on to be widely utilized in Mexico, Pakistan, and India and led to dramatic increases in food production, in turn earning Dr. Borlaug the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. The Dallas Morning News attests his lifelong dedication to physiology to growing up among the food shortages of the Great Depression: ``The sight of farm failures, sheriff's sales and hungry children would stay with him and influence his choices for the rest of his life.'' Dr. Borlaug added in his own words, ``I saw all that unfold. And I think that had something to do with how things turned out.''

Dr. Borlaug has certainly earned the right to slow down after his many years of hard work, but he continues, even at age 90, to a be a leader in the development and implementation of new technologies, in effect, ensuring the world's most needy adequate food supplies. He often travels to Asia and Africa, Europe and Latin America to help the public understand the value and potential of new biotechnology, while respecting and preserving the environment. In addition to his efforts globally, Dr. Borlaug is helping farmers make a living by leading the fight against wealthy and well-fed anti-technology protectionists in Europe.

Some would rest after a Nobel Peace Prize and many others would certainly take the opportunity to reward themselves and their family--deservedly--by answering lucrative offers from the private sector. In a world where 800 million children are hungry and even more live on less than one dollar a day, Dr. Borlaug has never stopped fighting, teaching, inventing, or caring. It is clear that Dr. Borlaug is inspired by the rewards his efforts yield for others.

Missouri's renowned plant scientist, George Washington Carver words are appropriate when used to describe Dr. Borlaug : ``No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.'' So very few of a talented world, billions strong, have met this test to the extent that Dr. Borlaug has. He has selflessly and tirelessly developed his gifts from God on behalf of millions and billions of desperate people he does not know, and who will never know whom to thank.

I also thank Mrs. Borlaug and the rest of the Borlaug family, on the behalf of the people of the State of Missouri, America, and throughout the world, for sharing Norman's attention for all these years.

Dr. Borlaug will soon gain status as the world's youngest 90 year old. I speak for all in thanking him for his lifelong dedication to agriculture and I sincerely wish him a happy birthday. The world owes Dr. Borlaug endless amounts of gratitude and we will look forward to celebrating his achievements again on his 100th birthday.

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