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Listen MPR's Tom Crann talks with Leon Hesser, who wrote Borlaug's biography
(AP) - President Bush presented the Congressional Gold Medal on Tuesday to agriculture scientist Norman Borlaug, whose work on high-yield, disease-resistant varieties of wheat is credited with starting the "Green revolution" and alleviating starvation in India and Pakistan in the 1960s.
"The most fitting tribute we can offer this good man is to renew ourselves to his life's work, and lead a second Green Revolution that feeds the world, and today we'll make a pledge to do so," Bush said at a Capitol Rotunda ceremony.
Borlaug, whose work is credited with saving up to a billion lives, was awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 1970. In 1986 Borlaug founded the World Food Prize, an annual $250,000 award to people whose work increases the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
“We need better and more technology, for hunger and poverty and misery are very fertile soils into which to plant all kinds of 'isms,' including terrorism.”Norman Borlaug
"The name Norman Borlaug may not be known in many households on earth, but his life's work has reached almost every kitchen table on earth," said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Borlaug, 93, used Tuesday's ceremony to say that hunger remains a problem with the rapid rise in the world's population.
"We need better and more technology, for hunger and poverty and misery are very fertile soils into which to plant all kinds of 'isms,' including terrorism," he said.
Borlaug, an Iowa native, was educated in a one-room schoolhouse and went on to attend the University of Minnesota, where he earned degrees in forestry and plant pathology in the late 1930s and early '40s.
He continues to work for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico and the Sasakawa Global 2000 program to bring the Green Revolution to Africa. He also serves as a distinguished professor of international agriculture at Texas A&M University, where he gives guest lectures.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor that Congress awards. George Washington was the first to receive the medal in 1776.
Other past winners include Thomas A. Edison, Bob Hope, Pope John Paul II and the Rev. Martin Luther King.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)