Norman Borlaug [Volume 14 No. 4 (2014)]


Reflecting on Norman Borlaug’s legacy
David Lambert

Reflecting on Norman Borlaug's legacy, what strikes me now is that his gifts to humankind were far beyond those directed to his own highest priorities - improving the lives of malnourished children and distressed farmers. He also left the rest of us with other important and fundamental understandings.

Dr. Borlaug helped us understand that the work of agriculture must always be grounded in scientific evidence and the search for truth, just as he exemplified in his own broad range of professional endeavors - from traditional plant breeding to new dimensions in biotechnology.

He helped us understand that as we try to nourish a planet that is becoming hotter, drier, thirstier and more crowded, it is imperative that we have the resolve to stand up to naysayers whose 'world view' is colliding with science, and that we must continue to search for the best answers - no matter how unpopular they may be.

He helped us understand that to secure the resources necessary to deal with these intractable problems, we must always give science a 'human face' - that we must learn how to effectively communicate that these issues are not just about trade statistics or new genetic traits but more importantly about insuring a brighter and healthier day for children.

Dr. Borlaug also taught us that our institutions that shape public opinion have an obligation to educate - and not to inflame unfounded fears about the frontiers of food and agriculture, sometimes in the interest of profits. Today, as the rhetoric of some of our most important societal institutions becomes increasingly polarized, we miss Borlaug's voice - that voice of uncompromising integrity and quiet reason in search of the truth.

David P. Lambert
Global Food Security Adviser

David P. Lambert
Lambert Associates
5105 Yuma Street, NW
Washington, DC 20016