Growing up on a farm in Iowa, Norman Borlaug learned firsthand the importance of a healthy agricultural economy. In the depths of the Great Depression, he saw crop failures ruin small farmers, while food shortages and farm foreclosures drove ordinary people to violence.
An expert in plant pathology and genetics, Borlaug turned his back on a lucrative career in industry to work with small farmers in rural Mexico, developing new strains of highly productive, pest-resistant wheat and maize. When Mexico became self-sufficient in grain production, he traveled to India and Pakistan, war-torn countries teetering on the brink of famine and mass starvation. Introducing crops and techniques he had developed in Mexico, he multiplied the grain output in these South Asian countries many times over. In a few years, they were producing enough grain to provide for their growing populations without dependency on foreign aid or imports.
Seeds and techniques developed by Dr. Borlaug have since been implemented around the world by scientists he trained. The increased productivity of existing farmland has saved millions of acres of woodlands from deforestation. This milestone in human history, called "the Green Revolution," saved the lives of a billion human beings who would otherwise have starved to death. In 1970, Norman Borlaug was honored with the Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of the contribution he made to world peace by increasing the planet's food supply.