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‘Green Revolution’ Founder Borlaug Dies at 95

A look back at the life of Norman Borlaug, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who developed important agricultural strategies for countries around the world. Borlaug died over the weekend at the age of 95.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Finally tonight, we remember the founder of the green revolution that saved hundreds of millions of people around the world from hunger.

    Norman Borlaug was a Midwestern farm boy turned plant scientist. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for developing new varieties of wheat and rice that transformed agriculture from Mexico to India. He died over the weekend at the age of 95.

    To discuss Borlaug and his legacy, we're joined by Gary Toenniessen of the Rockefeller Foundation, a longtime backer of Borlaug's work.

    Gary Toenniessen, thank you very much for being here. You were just telling me you knew him for almost four decades. You saw him as recently as a month ago. Tell us a little bit more about who he was and how he got interested in plants.

  • GARY TOENNIESSEN:

    Well, Norm was a farm boy, always was interested in the scientific aspects of plants and of agriculture, was lucky enough to get into the University of Minnesota and worked his way through a PhD program there as a plant pathologist, and then worked for a couple years before he joined the Rockefeller Foundation program in Mexico in 1944.

    That was a cooperative program with the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture aimed at trying to improve agriculture in what was then a country which had significant food shortages and a fair degree of political unrest due to those food shortages.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    What got him interested in hunger, in issues of hunger and food production?

  • GARY TOENNIESSEN:

    Well, I think he had a natural interest in trying to help poor people throughout his whole career. That was an underlying motivating factor with Norm. He was always looking to help the small-scale farmer, to make sure that people who were left behind by others benefited from the new developments in agricultural technologies

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