Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame
An American agronomist, Dr. Norman Borlaug was named winner of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the “green revolution,” a concerted effort to bring about an enormous increase in crop yields in developing countries through the cultivation of improved strains of cereal grans and the use of advanced technology.
Born March 25, 1914, at Cresco, Iowa, Borlaug is the great-grandchild of Norwegian immigrants hailing from the area of Feios. Borlaug received a bachelor’s degree in forestry in 1937, a master’s degree in plant pathology in 1940, and a doctorate in plant pathology in 1941, all from the University of Minnesota.
He was employed as a plant pathologist by the du Pont de Nemours Foundation until 1944 when he became director of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center of Mexico. There he undertook a wheat improvement project sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation in cooperation with the Mexican government. He was director of that program until 1981. While living in Mexico, he crossbred strains of wheat to emphasize their desirable qualities, such as high yield, high protein content, good milling and baking properties, and rust resistance.
Since then, he has acted as a consultant to the project and as an exofficio consultant on wheat research and production problems in Latin America, Africa and Asia. He is a former member of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger and of the Citizen’s Commission on Critical Choices for Americans.
He has received honorary doctorate degrees from numerous institutions in the United States as well as from India, Norway, Argentina, Chile, Germany, Pakistan, Hungary, Japan and the Dominican Republic.
He is also the recipient of several awards, including having a street named after him in Mexico, a statue dedicated for him in Iowa, and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
His awards have come from within the United States as well as from many other countries, and are nearly 100 in number.
In 1985 a new agriculture science building on the University of Minnesota campus was named Borlaug Hall in his honor. He was also named to the National Agricultural Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Margaret, had two children. Borlaug died September 12, 2009.