Norman Borlaug is known as “the man who fed the world,” but he also was the acclaimed scientist who never forgot his roots. From his farm boy days in Iowa to his influential work with the World Food Prize and the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Borlaug had his feet planted on home ground and his sights set on solving global hunger. As he said, “Whatever I’ve been able to do in life for good…in large part goes back to the experience of growing up on the soil.”
The “good” he referred to is symbolized by the fact that he is one of only five people in history to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal. The specifics of his good work come from Dr. Borlaug’s devotion to ensuring food security be moved from what he termed “the forgotten world” to being a central global issue. He was focused on feeding those who live with poverty and hunger.
Borlaug’s fame may have come from his agricultural innovations, but just as important was his success as a communicator. His entire life was a promotion for the positive endeavors of those who produce food—and one specific avenue he used to get his message across was his relationship with the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). Borlaug was the featured speaker at the organization’s 1973 conference, and his remarks were then published as CAST Paper #1. As he stated, “CAST has both a tremendous responsibility and opportunity to present unbiased, scientific data so that wise policy and legislation will be enacted.”
Borlaug’s connections with CAST continued throughout his lifetime, and one of his final essays was used posthumously as a preface for a CAST publication in 2010. As he once said, “Scientists must do their part in helping inform the world.” He was featured in several CAST publications, and—among many other awards—he received the 2005 Charles A. Black Award. Former CAST Executive Vice President (EVP) Linda Chimenti recalls the evening. “Dr. Borlaug gave a presentation describing highlights of his professional experiences, and he voiced his continued support for the work CAST was doing. Audience members knew they were in the presence of a truly remarkable human being.”
Dr. John Bonner was EVP in 2006 when he shared a new CAST paper with Dr. Borlaug at the World Food Prize, and Bonner subsequently helped initiate an award encapsulating Borlaug’s ideals. “His vision, drive, and unique style contributed so much to so many. Now CAST has the honor of supporting his efforts by selecting an individual each year for the Borlaug CAST Communication Award that continues his legacy of communicating credible science.”
“Dr. Borlaug’s commitment to the importance of communication certainly does live on through the Borlaug CAST Communication Award,” says Kent Schescke, current CAST EVP. “Over the past several years we have seen a tremendous increase in the number and quality of nominations. The opportunity to present this award in conjunction with the World Food Prize and Borlaug Dialogue has strengthened the relationship between CAST and the World Food Prize. Because CAST members come from scientific and professional societies, nonprofits, universities, and companies, many of the scientists we work with share Dr. Borlaug’s ideals, motivation, and commitment. Every day, they use science, technology, and innovation to enhance food security, safety, and sustainability.”
by Dan Gogerty (top photo from borlauginst.jpg and bottom photo from CAST archives)
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