Norman Borlaug receives Congressional Gold Medal

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — Norman Borlaug, founder of the World Food Prize and 1970 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, received the Congressional Gold Medal, America’s highest civilian honor, at a ceremony held July 17 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

The Congressional Gold Medal has been awarded only 135 times since it was first given out in 1776 to George Washington. Prior to Dr. Borlaug, who was approved for the award on Dec. 14, 2006, the most recent recipient was The Tuskegee Airmen in April 2006. Other recipients include Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope John Paul II.

Dr. Borlaug, 92, was recognized for his efforts to alleviate hunger and poverty in the world. According to the World Food Prize, Dr. Borlaug is believed to have saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived through his breakthrough work in agriculture, including ushering in the "Green Revolution" during the 1960s. Dr. Borlaug encouraged the use of more productive varieties, improved agricultural extension, access to credit and affordable fertilizers, and other approaches to help farmers in Asia and Latin America grow enough food.

His early work focused on developing varieties of wheat that were high yielding, disease resistant and adaptable to a variety of growing conditions.

"The Congressional Gold Medal is a remarkable tribute to Dr. Borlaug’s legacy of feeding the world," said Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize. "It is said of Dr. Borlaug that he has saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived."

Dr. Borlaug also is known for his association with the World Food Prize, which he founded in 1986 to recognize life-saving achievements that increase the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

Dr. Borlaug remains active in agriculture, conducting work for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico, as well as the Sasakawa Global 2000 program in Africa. In addition, he is a distinguished professor of international agriculture at Texas A&M University.

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