Dr. Norman Borlaug receives US Congressional Gold Medal [2007/08/29]
Dr. Borlaug recieving the Congressional Gold Medal
(Left to right: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Dr. Norman Borlaug,
President George Bush, Senate President pro tempore Robert Byrd)
Dr. Norman Borlaug (age: 93 years), President of the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA), has been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor that the United States government can bestow on civilians. The medal was awarded for a lifetime of effort as an agricultural scientist--work that is credited with saving more than a billion lives. At a July 17 presentation ceremony held at a joint session of congress, President George Bush and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi praised Dr. Borlaug’s achievements. President Bush commented, “Many have highlighted Norman Borlaug’s achievements in turning ordinary staples such as wheat and rice into miracles that brought hope to millions,” he said. “I thank you for proving . . . that one human being can change the world.”
The medal is only presented to individuals whose achievements are of unusual distinction. Recipients must be approved by two-thirds of both houses of Congress, but Dr. Borlaug’s nomination far exceeded this requirement, gaining unanimous approval. The first Congressional Gold Medal was presented in 1776 to George Washington. Other recipients include such figures as the 14th Dalai Lama, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela.
Previously, Dr. Borlaug’s work had already earned him the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for what was then dubbed the Green Revolution. This was a project that drastically increased the food production of India and Pakistan, which were at that time on the verge of famine and mass starvation. As the father of the Green Revolution, Dr. Borlaug is said to be have saved more lives than any other individual in human history.
After expressing his delight at receiving the Congressional Gold Medal, Dr. Borlaug called for further improvements in science and technology to save even more lives. He remarked, “The Green Revolution was a great historic success. In 1960, perhaps 65 percent of the world’s people felt hunger… By the year 2000, the proportion of hungry in the world had dropped to 14 percent of the total population. Still, this figure translated to 850 million men, women, and children who lacked sufficient calories and protein to grow strong and healthy bodies.”
Dr. Borlaug addressing the assembly
Since taking office as SAA President in 1986, Dr. Borlaug has also worked to achieve agricultural reform in Africa. The SAA is currently promoting the Sasakawa-Global 2000 project, intended to raise the standard of living in Africa by teaching scientific production techniques to small farmers, thereby increasing food production.