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A true American hero

Letter to the Editor | Monday, September 21, 2009

I was disappointed this past week to find that The Observer omitted the newsworthy passing of not just an American icon, but a world hero: Norman Borlaug. Borlaug, a scientist and humanitarian from Cresco, Iowa, put his Midwest farming background to good use and focused on feeding the hungry people of the world. He helped develop new forms of wheat that enabled famine-ravaged countries like Mexico and India to feed their own population and eventually produce enough to export food to other nations.

His contributions are widely credited with helping save over one billion lives (“Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity,” 1997). He founded the World Food Prize, which recognizes individuals and groups that help to eradicate famine and hunger across the world. Among his many accomplishments, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Congressional Gold Medal and a Nobel Peace Prize. Borlaug joins six others, including the likes of Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr., as the only people to have been awarded each of these distinctions.

It is incredible to think that, while many people dream of being doctors, police offices, firefighters, or other professions, in hopes of saving or impacting lives, that Norman Borlaug did just that, and more. Perhaps the World Food Prize website characterized his contributions best by recalling him as, “the man who saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived.”

John Whitty


off campus

Sept. 21