Tuesday, September 15, 2009

RIP Norman Borlaug: Saved Millions From Starvation

Death of a Humanist by Guy Sorman, City Journal, 14 September 2009. From the article:
Norman Borlaug, who has just died at age 95 in Dallas, was an exception among living Nobel Peace Prize beneficiaries: he actually deserved the award, which he received in 1970. This media-shy and extremely modest scientist, who served on the faculty at Texas A&M University, saved from hunger hundreds of millions of starving peasants around the world.

Borlaug was no innocent scientist: he knew that science could feed the world only when political conditions were right. In the case of India and Mexico, the semi-dwarf wheat and rice worked marvels because the farmers owned their own land. As private owners, they had a vested interest in using more expensive seeds that would produce a higher yield. Local authorities provided the water for irrigation: both the Mexican and Indian governments did it right, later followed by Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. But without private entrepreneurs, the Green Revolution would not have taken place. While touring the world, Borlaug always stressed that seeds by themselves could not eradicate hunger. Private property, entrepreneurship, and reliable governments were essential prerequisites.
Read Sorman's complete City Journal article here.

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