On September 12th, 1009, Norman Borlaug died at the age of 95. When I call him the “greatest man in history,” I write completely free of sarcasm, hyperbole, or cynicism. I honestly hold Mr. Borlaug in higher regard than any person who has ever lived.
Why is he the “greatest man in history?”
A few years ago an episode of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit discussed bio-engineered food. Mr. Borlaug was the father of the Green Revolution; an agricultural revolution whereby science and technology were used to increase crop yield, and fight famine (not to be confused with the Green Movement which is notorious for cherry-picking science). From Mexico, to India, the Philippines, and Africa, Mr. Borlaug helped poor people in undeveloped countries feed themselves. Estimates put the number of people saved, and subsequently sustained by Mr. Borlaug’s work at over one billion people (it’s probably more, and over time that number will continue to increase).
Penn & Teller declared Mr. Borlaug “the greatest man in history.” Since seeing the episode, I read a lot about Mr. Borlaug and only became more impressed. Prior to his death I had gone to great lengths to try and name another person who was arguably “better” than Mr. Borlaug. I still can’t. One billion plus lives is an unimaginably high standard to set, and he didn’t do it from some swank home in the States. He lived with the people he was helping. He experienced the suffering firsthand, and did something about it. Not only that, he worked into his 90’s, constantly striving to save more people, and alleviate human suffering. To my knowledge, there has never been another person who has had the intelligence, ingenuity, compassion, and drive to help so tirelessly on such an enormous scale.
Unfortunately groups like PETA have demonized Mr. Borlaug, and there are many unfounded articles circulating that make him out to be something terrible. I could rage on those groups all night, but I will save that for another post… another day… those people will still be around tomorrow. Today is a day of mourning. We lost one of the great ones.
Therefore I feel that the aforementioned guiding principle must be modified to read: If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time cultivate the fields to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace.